Sixteen rail routes closed during 100-day plan
DURING the new government’s first 100 days in office, 16 short train routes were closed and another 14 changed, the director general of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, U Tun Lwin Oo, said at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw on August 16.
“Having done that, finances are being saved and can be better used to meet the transportation needs of the public,” he said.
With the closure of 16 routes, the ministry is losing K205,000 in daily revenues from 843 passengers but saving K900,000 in daily expenditures on 299 gallons of petroleum, Myanmar Railways general manager U Aung Win said.
Before the recent closures, the government was spending billions of kyats each year to subsidise the public rail lines – a fact that was criticised during every budget season.
In January, the Mawlamyine-Ye express train was closed. On April 17, the Kaungsai-Moe Ne passenger and freight routes were shuttered. On June 11, the Phayabaw-Thayet freight train, the Hinthada-Phayabaw freight train, and the Hinthada-Hlaing Tharyar passenger train ceased operations. In July, Wetlet-Kalay and Monywa-Tiddim ran their last routes. And in August, the Thazi-Madaya passenger train ended its service.
Meanwhile, Yangon-Pakokku became Yangon-Bagan; Kyaukkyi-Katha turned into Katha-Moetargyi; Pyinmana-Loikaw shifted operation to Aungban-Loikaw; and Taunggyi-Htiyi is now Taunggyi-Saikkhaung.
Neither the director general nor the general manager mentioned how much money Myanmar Railways would save from the route changes.
The Mandalay-Myitkyina express also changed its fare structure, and old train cars on the Einme-Pathein and Mandalay-Monywa lines were replaced by regenerative brake (RBE) cars. The ministry also built the 860-foot-long (260-metre-long) Myitngedwe Bridge, said U Tun Lwin Oo.
Only one train could cross the old bridge at one time, so if two trains were approaching the bridge from opposite directions one had to wait.
“There could have been accidents,” U Tun Lwin Oo said. “Now they can cross safely and in a short time.”
Passengers sit on a train preparing to depart Yangon.