The International Steam Pages
Steamy Burma Days 1999/2000
This report has been compiled differently from previous years. I was only here for 10 days, principally to visit the Burma Mines Railway. I had just one day at Bago and did not visit any other steam centre. Hence this report will be updated as other visitors pass on their observations to me. If you are new to the steam scene here you ought to read Steamy Burma Days 1996, Steamy Burma Days 1997 and Steamy Burma Days 1999. Manfred Schoeler has compiled his own report which concentrates on the line south from Bago into Mon state, http://members.aol.com/MSchoeler/index.htm/Monstate1.htm.
You can read Hugh Ballantyne's full report on a separate page.
The current Bago allocation is YB 533, YC 629 and 630 and YDs 964, 969 and 972 (974 is on the board but is actuallty away north). 533 and 629 are fresh from works and have been designated as 'tourist locomotives', although I doubt this will make much difference. There is now a daily passenger/mixed to/from Yangon (trains 13/14), I did not see it but I heard 972 depart on it on Saturday November 27th between 05.00 and 06.00 (the schedule says 06.25) and the TEFS party apparently saw the loco in Yangon at midday when they were there. Nick Lera saw YC 630 leave tender first at 16.00 (scheduled time) from Yangon on December 3rd. 962 (officially from from Mokpalin) was involved in accident on the morning working on 17th December and was then sent to Insein for repair.
By mid-January steam had been taken off the Yangon turn following the accident, as a result, the Mottama turn (see below) was rostered for steam everyday!
Once again, there seems less work for the locos than a year or two back and all the rest were on shed at 10.00 on November 27th. 964 then worked the Nyaungkhashe train at 11.00 (tender first outbound) and 630 had worked it the previous day (smokebox first outbound). So again it seemed the locos were being rotated. With 964 we passed two eastbound diesel hauled stone trains at Nyaungpattaya and were very surprised to see Mokpalin's YD 962 on a westbound stone train from Taungzun at Abya. This was an opportunity not to be missed, so we boarded it and were able to photograph the departure from there (twice as it came to a halt outside the station for some reason) and again at Waw. We were sidetracked at Nyaungpattaya for 86 down to come past so we again changed trains so we were able to photograph 962 under the Bago gantry at the optimum time of 16.45. I was only here for a day but I saw more real steam at work than the average touring party will see in two weeks. You make your own luck....
Nick Lera tells me that a new development is that the daily 85/86 slow mixeds to/from Bago are worked alternate days by steam (Mottama loco) and diesel (as luck would have it we saw the diesel day in November). 534 worked tender first out of Bago on December 1st and returned from Mottama next day smokebox first. I would also expect the regular salt train to be operating to Sittoung/Theinzyat (the salt train did not operate during Manfred Schoeler's visit). Peter Breeze found that the alternate day rule didn't necessarily apply but usually did.... Since some locos (534 for one) were turned in early January (presumably for the Dorridge tour) it was important to find out which way a loco was facing before rushing out a long way to photograph it. By mid-January these trains were rostered for steam every day following the removal of steam from the Yangon service.
ST 754 has been repainted black and remains available for tourist charters. Note that regular steam from Bago ceased in mid-January (see above).
The Madauk branch train was operating as before twice daily with YCs. Peter Breeze found 627 on the train with 624 in reserve. He rather liked this operation as has every other visitor.
YD 974 is here but it has no work except when needed for visiting enthusiast specials. It may have moved to Pyimana by mid-January 2000.
YB 536 and YDs 967 facing south are 'working' sugar trains as usual between November and March. Only two steam locomotives were needed because the Thawatti service no longer runs with the opening of two huge new sugar mills in the area. Note 'working' because in 3 days Peter Breeze never saw 967 move (it was having a spring repaired), and only once in that time did 536 run at a time of day when the light was good. ( I don't know why he grumbled so much, it was one time more than I saw in 1999!) YC 629 and YD 974 were here when a tour group came through in January 2000, but it is not clear if this was more than short-term in view of their use on charter trains, but with YB 536 said to be due to go to Insein, one of them will presumably stay here.