National

Myanmar taps Japanese ODA to upgrade Yangon's circular railway

Nna/kyodo

Myanmar has begun upgrading the six-decade-old railway loop in its former capital Yangon with official development assistance from Japan.

Tokyo will provide $207 million for the $301 million project, which is designed to shorten the round-trip travel time to two hours from three. More commuters are using trains to avoid traffic congestion in the city, according to Myanmar Railways.

Work on the western portion of the 29.5-mile (47-km) loop is set to be completed in March 2019 by local contractor A1 Group of Companies and its Chinese partner Sinohydro Corp. The eastern portion is scheduled for completion in 2022 by local contractor Shwe Taung.

Htun Aung Thin, general manager of Myanmar Railways, predicts daily passengers will nearly triple to 260,000 from 90,000 after the upgrade.

The work will not disturb the current double-track passenger service as runs will continue on a single track, he said.

Zaw Lwin, divisional traffic manager at the state-backed railway, said the project will greatly support urban transportation in Yangon in the future.

The circular line was built during the British colonial period and was upgraded to double tracks in 1958.