The International Steam Pages

The Burma Mines Railway, December 2002/January 2003

Regular correspondent Takahide Yamamoto reports:

Some members of International Railway Society of Japan did three-day steamcharter on this remote two-foot gauge railway. Both Kerr Stuart 0-4-2T No. 13 and Bagnall 2-6-2 No. 42 were used. No. 42 is now stationed at Namtu not at Namyao. In Namtu, lots of dumped saddle tanks in the upper yard and a few derelict 2-6-2 Bagnall tank engines in the shed, which I saw on my last visit in 1997, were gone, but remains of two saddle tanks and two side tanks (sisters of No.13) on display in the yard were freshly repainted.

Day 1. (December 30, 2002) - No.13 with a coach from Namtu to Tiger Camp.

Day 2. (December 312, 2002) - The same engine on the same line but with a boxcar.

Day 3. (January 1, 2003) - No.42 with three ore cars from Namtu to 32 Mile Point.

The upper line from Namtu to Bawdwin is really scenic. First it runs along a river but the best section begins with an open spiral just before Wallah Gorge Station. At the next station Tiger Camp the train begins backward climb winding in gorges till it reaches to a point located high above Wallah Gorge Station, where it changes its direction again to normal but tight omega curves on cliffs still continue till Bawdwin, now the terminal station. Unfortunately, they say, using steam is possible only up to Tiger Camp.

On day 2, our original plan was to use a flat car and a boxcar, but after shunting in the yard the railway management asked us to choose from either to use a diesel banker or to drop one of the cars. Their diagram chart shows that Namtu is located at 32.1 mile from Namyao, but this 32 Mile Point, where panoramic view of mountains is available, is a couple of kilometers back from Namtu to Namyao. A new lorry transfer yard will be constructed at 32 Mile Point, after which completion the connection with Myanmar Railways at Namyao may be discontinued.

Rob Dickinson