Manfred Schoeler reports on a long dreamed for steam revival. For those
unfamiliar with the area, I have added a sketch map which I prepared 20 years
ago at the time of my 1996 visit and
my 1997 visit, when all the steam
was real, of course, and you had to get the shot right first time because you
never knew when (or if) the second chance would come. It was much more fun
though, than a 'turkey shoot'.
In January 2017 FarRail went to Burma / Myanmar on a 10 day photo excursion with authentic
chartered steam trains. The first trip was with YC 629 from Bago to Pyuntaza and return, the second trip was from Bago to Abbya with YD 967 and the third and longest trip was from Bago to
Zingyaik (Mottama for turning) and return. After almost nine years since the
last real steam trains ran, the locomotives performed well. On some parts of our tour a diesel did assist to
save water and time. What follows is a brief day by day report:
8th January 2017
YC 629, YD 964 and YD 967 received some attention at Bago loco shed to let them look like during
steam days. At 16.00 platform 1 of Bago railway station was reserved for the
steam locomotives and the coaches as Buddhist Monks from a nearby monastery were invited to give their blessing to the engines and their crews.
After the blessing.
9th January 2017
Today Pacific YC 629 took a steam passenger train from Bago to Pyuntaza. Playing
under the signals of Bago railway station was compulsory.
Level crossing on the old highway
On the triangle at Pyuntaza
At Pyuntaza the locomotive was turned on the triangle for
her trip back to Bago. The enthusiasts had enough time to enjoy a cold beer at
the shed and to have a look at the Pyuntaza collection:
YC 630, YD 969, 962
YC 629 back on the line
10th January 2017
As a reminiscence of the old Bago – Nyaungkashe train, today YD 967 got the honor to work a Bago –
mixed train. The track from Abya to Nyaungkashe is in too bad condition to allow a
steam locomotive. After that there was another chance to get the pagoda shot with YC 629 and the
passenger train at Payagyi.
YD 967 leaving Bago
YC 629 at Payagi
11th January 2017
An empty train had to be brought to be loaded with stones at Zingyaik. This duty
was given to YD 964. The first section traversed was from Bago to Mokpalin. At Mokpalin,
the track to the turntable has received an overhaul and the turntable is in use to turn the
diesels for the stone trains. Mokpalin station has now become a loading point for
YD 964 near Abya
YD 964 and Hino at Theinzayat
Kyaikto river bridge
12th January 2017
After an overnight at Mokpalin shed our train proceeded to Thaton. On the
way, at Hninpale the local
fire brigade helped out with some water.
YD 964 and friends
Crossing at Mayangon
13th January 2017
In the morning YD 964 performed some runpasts from Thaton to Zingyaik. In the afternoon the empties were delivered
to Zingyaik Station and the loco went on to Mottama shed for turning and maintenance.
Thaton morning session
Thaton afternoon session
Yinnyein Pagoda 2017
14th January 2017
In the morning there was time for a photoshoot with YD 964 at Mottama shed. A
steam crane (30 TSC 9876) is stored there. Insein Workshop stopped heavy
repairs on steam cranes two years ago and the others are stored there in a long row covered with vegetation.
30T SC 9876 at Mottama
YD 964 at Mottama
15th January 2017
After some show loading at Zingyaik Station the train went back to Thaton. As we
could not get permission to take loaded wagons with our train we had to take our train empty to Bago.
YD 964 at Zingyaik
Sunset near Thaton
16th January 2017
Today our train went from Thaton to Kyaikto, with photostops at Thinzeiak and
Hninpale. From Kyaikto the enthusiasts went on by bus to Bago and the
steam train proceeded to Bago with the assistance of our standby diesel.
Hninpale river bridge
The final shot...
I would very much like to thank the management and the staff of Myanma Railways
for bringing back steam to the tracks of the railway. The tourists and locals
along the way, especially the children enjoyed the unusual sight of the passing
steam trains, and maybe one or an other young boy (or girl) will have made a
decision to become a steam loco driver in the future ….