Sunday, 28 June 2015

Permanent Way in Myanmar

In March 2008, I made my first visit to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and made my first trip on Yangon's Circle Line, described here. The comments I made at the time about the trackwork were not very kind, I'm afraid.
"Whilst the track isn't too bad near the main station with a fair amount of concrete sleepers and modern rail fastenings, it deteriorates further out. Here, rails are frequently spiked to elderly wooden sleepers which are quite widely spaced and with indifferent ballasting. Rail gaps are very variable (sometimes with a short piece of rail plugging the gap) and with frequent missing fishbolts, as my photographs show. I'm afraid these standards are typical of the infrastructure in Myanmar, which has suffered from years of neglect."
I'm happy to report that matters have improved somewhat since 2008 but the condition of trackwork is still an issue. I've not seen modern equipment for tamping and lining which may be a factor.

DMU Cab Ride on the Circle Line: View of concrete sleepered track and shallow ballast.

Burma can source various hardwoods for sleepers. Traditionally, Pyingado was used, described as "one of the most valuable Burmese timbers, second only to teak. It produces very large trees, 100 to 120 feet in height and 8 to 12 feet in girth. At their best the boles are straight and fairly cylindrical. These trees grow in association with teak. The trees occur in the lower hill forests in Burma up to about 2,500 feet".

On pointwork, wooden crossing timbers are still used but, on plain track, concrete sleepers are used. These are produced at a number of locations in Myanmar:-

Khin U (Division 2)*
Myitnge (Division 3)*
Mohaung (Division 3)
Pa Kok Ku (Division 11)
Shwe Nyaung (South Shan State)
Motetamma (near Mawlamyine)*
Oo Shit Pin (near Pyi)
Pyon Tan Sar (on main line)

Total: 8 locations. The three sites marked with an asterisk are the principal production areas.

My pictures

A selection of Permanent Way pictures in Myanmar.

[Brief details of Pyingado added 3-Jul-2015]