Friday, 6 May 2016

Thazi Railway Station and Diesel Locomotive Depot

Thazi is an important station on the Yangon to Mandalay main line which is now mainly (if not completely) double track with left-hand running. With few constraints on space when built, the track layout is spacious and five through platforms, plus a bay facing south, are provided. The main station building is on the west side, adjacent to platform 1.

Thazi is the junction for the steeply-grade branch to Kalaw and Yaksauk which includes two zig-zag sections so it was logical to provide motive power for this branch from a locomotive depot at Thazi. Originally, of course, this was a steam shed and home to some of Burma Railways massive Beyer Garratts. What is now a Diesel Locomotive Depot is just north of the station on the west side. I found one of the Beyer Garratts (running number GC833, Beyer Peacock works number 7128 of 1943) set aside at Thazi, externally complete cosmetically and repainted (16.07.2006) but with quite a lot missing. There was also an outside cylinder six-coupled side tank, carrying running number S.1, plinthed on the approach to the depot.

I wasn’t able to check the diesel shed itself but I could see at least four Bo-Bo-Bo diesel electric locomotives (including DF.2013) variously built in either France or China plus an unidentified light railcar. Near the station. I passed Railway Gang Cars ED/RGC-62 and ED(M) RGC.29.

A relic of steam days was the two massive round water tanks mounted on steel-framed towers, at the south of the station on the west side near a covered shed where carriage maintenance was being carried out. Two out-of-use water columns for steam locomotives survive.

Overhead water supplies are found at many stations on Myanma Railways for replenishing lavatory tanks of passenger coaches. At Thazi, these were provided on a number of platforms but delivery nozzles were only fitted on platform 1.

Another commonly-found feature was the fence between platform 1 line and platform 2 line, to prevent too indiscrimate crossing of the lines by passengers. Crossing the line is still the norm and, as usual, the fence was provided with an opening opposite the entrance from the main station building which most passengers choose to use, although Thazi also has a substantial steel footbridge linking the three platform groups [1], [2, 3 and Bay], [4,5]. No fencing was provided across the other tracks so people, dogs and goats were free to cross the lines anywhere. My railway training forced me to look both ways before crossing any line, but I’ve seen scant evidence that local people give any thought to the possibility of moving trains when crossing railway lines.

Just to the north of the elderly footbridge, there was a more modern reinforced concrete bridge structure, carrying a group of buildings topped by what was presumably the signal box with outward-leaning windows like the control tower of an airfield.

The signalling at Thazi is all-electric, with two aspect running signals and, in most cases, a subsidiary aspect of two diagonal white lights is provided. Where ground level shunting signals are provided, these have three lights providing two aspects. I didn’t identify the point machines but, in places, tubular point rodding allows one machine to operate two switches. At strategic locations, small Location Cases are provided for equipment. Track bonding, as you would expect, suggests continuous track circuiting in the station area. The installation was generally similar to those found in the Mandalay area. I was amused that, in each direction on the main line, fixed distant signals are provided but they are semaphore signals without lighting of the rather crude (and variable) pattern found everywhere in Myanmar.

Immediately south of the station, the main road through Thazi crosses the railway at a conventional level crossing, manned by a Crossing Keeper operating manual gates.

Whilst I was taking pictures, I saw Shunting locomotive DD.510 (built by Kawasaki) shut down just north of the station on platform 5 road, carefully placed in the shade of a large tree between the running lines. After a few minutes, the crew got on, started the engine and shunted light engine, disappearing (I think) to the Locomotive Shed. There's a little more information on this class of 500 h.p. diesel hydraulic locomotives in the post Diesel Traction in Burma.

To the east of the station there were a number of parallel stabling tracks, accessible from both ends, with a variety of goods rolling stock. Two roads were provided with pits and a roof over part of their length, I imagine for passenger coach examinations but there were only petrol tank wagons there at the time of my visit.

The station building on platform 2-3 was a rather British-looking affair, brick built with a tiled roof. Amongst other offices, there was a Station Supervisors Office and a Radio Room. Beyond the building, substantial steel-framed umbrella roofing was provided.

To be continued ...

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Thazi Locomotive Depot
Thazi Station

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