The International Steam Pages

Steam Locomotives in Myanmar March 1997

Myanmar has become the 'in' destination for the globe-trotting enthusiast. You may need to read a full report of my own 3 week visit which includes maps if you unfamiliar with the country.

'Steam and Safaris' visited here in early March. Tour organiser Derek Philips, told me:

"Very few steam trains were running during our visit owing to the fuel oil shortage. Overall we saw only 2YC and 1YB in steam. At Bago, the only working was the Nyaungkhashe passenger and even that was about to be suspended. Fortunately, we were able to observe one of the Moktama salt train workings to the paper factory at Sittoung. This normally works to a five day cycle, with a 01.00 departure northbound. With a little bit of persuasion, we were able to delay this until mid-day which allowed us to photograph it on the scenic section as far as Thaton in good light."

Ray Schofield was here a few weeks later and reports:


HQ had confirmed that the salt train would be leaving Moktama in the near future and would be held pending our arrival. A visit to Waw (beyond Bago) at midday confirmed that the Nyaungkhashe train was still suspended but would be restarted the next day. Just east of Abya YC 627 was found heading for Bago on a stone train, arriving at Waw at 16.45 after passing a succession of diesel passenger trains. At Theinzyat, YB 533 (the regular locomotive for the salt train) was seen fire cleaning and loading some pigs on a freight.


After overnighting in Thaton, we found YD 967 waiting to work a salt train (unusually this was going through to Yangon). It required turning to get it smokebox first, a manoeuvre not without risk as the triangle was clearly not in regular use. YB 533 arrived on salt empties at 09.20 and at 09.25 we departed and it took all day to get to Kyaitko at 18.50, with a number of photographic 'opportunities' en route, where we left the train.


This was a 'temple' day with just a brief visit to the wrecks at Mokpalin and confirmation of a stone train working the next morning.


YD 962 worked through to Bago leaving at 07.20, passing YC 630 (tender first) on stone empties at Abya. At Waw YC 624 was seen on the Nyaungkhashe passenger. On Bago shed was YB 529 (waiting works), YC 626 and YC 627, YD 962 and YD 972. In the yard YD 969 was ready to depart tender first on stone empties and YD 967 was shunting.


YC 627 was due to work the Nyaungkhashe passenger (outbound tender first), but the main interest today was at Pyuntaza where YC 623 was followed into the sunset on the afternoon Madauk passenger.


The morning passenger with YC 623 was chased back from Madauk. Although the roads were bad, at least 4 shots were possible and the crew co-operating fully (They are getting used to visitors now!). The afternoon train was again chased.


A disappointing day, with YC 623 working the morning train. Despite being in steam, YB 532 failed to make the afternoon working on time, leaving Pyuntaza more than 2 hours late.


Bago was particularly busy, with 4 locomotives in steam. YC 627 was the passenger loco. YD 962 arrived at 08.10 with a stone train and both YD 967 and YD 969 were due out on empties later in the day.

Rob Dickinson