Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will invest USD 250 million to upgrade Yangon’s circular railway and has also proposed building two underground railway lines, as well as a light rapid transit system to improve the flow of traffic around the city.
Such large-scale infrastructure investment is necessary, as Yangon’s population is projected to double from 5.1 million to 10 million by 2040 – or 1.5 million more people than are currently living in Bangkok, said Shigehiko Sugita, deputy director of JICA’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Department, to The Myanmar Times.
In the longer-term, however, Yangon faces a much bigger problem. Even if the circular railway is upgraded to an international standard with fast and frequent trains, it will not be able to support a population of more than 10 million, Sugita said.
Myanmar Railways believes the city needs another railway line, said Mr Sugita, adding that the authority had the idea of installing a monorail from the north to the south of the city, along the western bank of Inya Lake.
JICA is also supporting a new tram line from Kyeemindaing to Strand Hotel. “After this pilot project we will extend the line, and we are considering perhaps building a small circular tram line. LRT is easier and cheaper than MRT but it will also not be sufficient to support the entire population. In the meantime, work on the circle line upgrade will begin in 2016, following a year of planning, and the entire project is due for completion in 2020,” Sugita added.