Yangon Circular Railway upgrade to start in October

Passengers on the Yangon Circular Railway. Photo: Flickr / Eddy Milfort

The upgrade of the Yangon Circular Railway will begin in October and is expected to be completed by 2020, according to Yangon Region Transport Authority (YRTA) secretary Dr. Maung Aung, who made the announcement at a seminar on sustainable transportation systems on July 11.

The project will be funded through an overseas development assistance loan of US$206 million from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The upgrade aims to reduce running and waiting times and allow more people to use the train every day.

The train currently takes around three hours to complete a full circuit, and waiting times at stations range between 15 and 45 minutes. After the upgrade, the train is expected to complete its circuit in two hours, and waiting times will be reduced to 10 minutes.

These improvements are expected to bring the number of daily passengers from 73,000 to 263,000, according to Myanma Railways.

Dr. Maung Aung also warned that during the upgrade, only one of the Circular Railway’s two tracks will run at any given time, so crowding on the train and the region’s buses is expected to be higher than usual.

Furthermore, despite the promises of the upcoming upgrade, Dr. Maung Aung said he wished the regional government would build an elevated metro system rather than renovating the Circular Railway.

“There are 2.8 million people who use public transportation in Yangon. The railway should be able to accommodate at least a million passengers every day, otherwise we will have to rely on buses,” the YRTA secretary said.

“But that might cost a lot,” he concluded.

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