eThe International Steam Pages

Steam in Burma, January 2017

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.


Platform 1

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.

Bago signals:

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:

YB 508
YC 630
YD 446      962 969 972 973 974
D 1032

YC 630, YD 969, 962

Japanese Railcar

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 Abya 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 stone.

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. 

Mottama shed

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

89 Up

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.

Theinzeik reflections

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 .

Rob Dickinson