Rangoon residents will be hoping that proposals for a Bangkok-style city rail network fare better than the grand plan for a high-speed railway linking Burma’s coast with China.
The Burmese government says it’s talking with specialist construction companies from Singapore, Japan, the US and Germany about an elevated suburban system and also a subway system.
Railways Minister Aung Min said his department favored the systems now operating in the Thai capital, which suggests that German conglomerate Siemens is in the negotiations for a build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement.
Siemens built Bangkok’s popular “Skytrain” and is currently constructing a railway in Malaysia. It has also supplied electronic systems for Singapore’s subway.
Asked how soon a Rangoon rail network could get under way, Aung Min told Reuters this week “it depends on the terms” for a BOT deal.
A BOT deal with China for a fast railway between Rangoon and Muse, on the China-Burma border, was mooted in late 2010. Between then and now, there have been three false start dates, and the Burma destination has changed to Kyaukpyu on the west coast, where the Chinese are building an oil transhipment port.
Aung Min said last August that construction of the railway, carrying freight trains at 200 kph, could start last December. Nothing has happened.