12 July 2018
An artist’s impression of the new platforms to be built at stations along the Yangon Circular Railway.
Japan’s Hello Communications has submitted a proposal to upgrade train stations along the Yangon Circular Railway to Myanma Railways, which operates the line, U Arkar Min Thu, general manager of the economic department under Myanma Railways, told The Myanmar Times on Tuesday.
It is the first time Myanma Railways is receiving proposals from the private sector for upgrading works along the railway.
Through its local joint venture, Hello Communications will commence work on Thamine station in Mayangone township, which will be conducted as an initial test project, after which the government will decide on whether to issue a permit allowing the Japanese to upgrade all 37 stations, said U Arkar Min Thu.
However, a timeline for the work to be carried out and completed was not given.
“We presented our plan for the Yangon Circular Railway in April for all 37 stations but received instructions that we should upgrade Thamine station first,” said Kimio Shichida, chair of Hello Communications. Based on the company’s estimates, all 37 stations will require an investment of about $11 million.
Work on Thamine will begin this year after the permit is received and an agreement for the long term lease of the station from the Ministry of Rail Transportation is signed, said Mr Shichida.
The upgrading of Thamine station will include construction of a new platform, train station and staff quarters. Hello Communications estimates that construction of the staff quarters alone will cost around $300,000. “We will also be responsible for the long term maintenance of the housing after construction,” said Mr Shichida.
The new Thamine platform will include construction of a ticket office, entrance gate, shelters and public amenities. It will also come with a modern coffee shop, convenience stores and advertising space to generate revenue.
Hello Communications’ working relationship with the railway operator in 2016, when it received a permit to run advertisements on a total of 188 pillars at the Pansodan flyover bridge leading to the Yangon Central Railway Station. However, that business was not a success.
The company has also constructed a coffee shop and seats for commuters at the Yangon Central Railway Station.