The railways of Burma: their past, present and future
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 01:06 by Lindsay Clyde Stubbs
The key theme of this thesis is how the railways of Burma have performed in the past and what their prospects are for the future. Case studies of two rural lines (the Aungban-Loikaw line and the Kyangin-Pakokku line) and a study of the railways in southern Shan State suggest that there were poor construction methods in the past, and that today there is a lack of maintenance and a lack of commitment from Myanma Railways to fund these lines. The thesis begins with an examination of the economic benefits and impact of railways, including a discussion of railway finance with a focus on the Operating Ratio. Chapter 3 is the core of this thesis with a statistical overview of the railways in Burma, with an emphasis on the period since World War II. Information is drawn from multiple sources to construct time series graphs of key aspects relating to the railways in Burma. Chapter 4 considers the likelihood of the construction of a China-Burma Railway from Yunnan Province in China, to Kyaukphyu on the coast of Rakhine State, Burma. The recently opened railway from Nairobi to Mombasa in Kenya could be a model for a future China-Burma Railway, but major economic and political concessions would need to be made by the government of Burma for such a line to be built. Chapter 5 is the case study of the line to Loikaw, and Chapter 6 of the line on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River from Kyangin to Pakokku. Th estudy of the Kyangin-Pakokku line highlights the poor quality of construction undertaken by Myanma Railways in recent years; the poor quality of current maintenance on the line; and the poor facilities for passengers on the line. Chapter 7 discusses the railways in southern Shan State, concluding that construction of the Shan State Railway is important from an economic viewpoint, but is a long way off. Chapter 8 covers a number of smaller topics, including international links, for example the possibility of a railway from Burma to India. By looking at past statistics relating to the railways, insight is provided into the issues faced by Myanma Railways today. The thesis draws on empirical evidence from field trips to Burma to highlight areas of concern with the current operations of Myanma Railways. This thesis recommends that the government achieve a balance between the funding of key lines such as the Yangon-Mandalay line and the Circular Railway in Yangon compared to the funding of work (e.g. repair, maintenance and construction) on smaller regional lines.