The Yangon Circular Railway is probably the most well-known ride in Yangon, with the three-hour loop around the city offering a crash course of local sights and sounds, but yet not needing to venture out of the city. While a not-to-be-missed tourist activity, the Yangon Circular Railway is a local commuter line, and, contrary to its popular name, not all trains travel the full circular railway, and the system actually consists of 3 other lines other than just the famous circle. As such, a bulk of the passengers are on their daily commute rather than being on a tour train.
Yangon Railway Station is pretty near downtown Yangon. From the Sule Pagoda, walk north towards this junction. However, the Yangon Circular Railway departs from another platform from the main station building, so instead of following Google Maps, turn right at this junction.
Continue straight to an overhead bridge.
Ascend the stairs to this overhead bridge.
Turn left at the top.
Continue straight along the sheltered path to the station.
You will see the coach maintenance yard from the bridge.
Head down the first set of stairs to the Yangon Circular Railway platforms.
You will see a ticket counter when you head down the steps. This is for tickets for other commuter lines. Continue down to the platform to purchase your Yangon Circular Railway ticket.
The map and timetable of the Yangon Circular Railway.
*Translation of the timetable to be updated.
The platform of the Yangon Circular Railway.
My train for the 3-hour ride around Yangon is pulling in to Platform 7 just as I got down.
The ticket counter for the Yangon Circular Railway is ahead.
There is an English-speaking staff to sell you tickets here. A ticket for the Yangon Circular Railway costs 200 kyats (~S$0.18).
My ticket for the 3-hour ride around Yangon on the Yangon Circular Railway. Notice that the ticket is all in English other than the stamp – I wonder if this is a tourist ticket?
Heading to board my train at Platform 7.
If you’re thinking that this doesn’t look very Burmese, you’re right. This is a 4-car train formed of ex-JR Central (JR Tokai) KiHa 40 series (KiHa 48 type) DMUs.
This side of the train still bears the destination plate of the Taita Line between Tajimi and Mino-Ōta.
The builder and operator plates of the KiHa 40 DMU.
Contrary to operations in Japan, all doors are opened throughout the journey for ventilation.
The view of the main Yangon Railway Station building from the Yangon Circular Railway platforms.
The interior of the KiHa 40 DMU – not much difference in the layout from the original Japanese configuration. The additional air-conditioning pods installed by Myanmar Railways are no longer in operation.
The driving cab area of the KiHa 40 DMU.
This car still bears the fare board of the Takayama Main Line and Taita Line for one-man operations (OMO).
This door button won’t be needed any more.
The driving cab of the KiHa 40 DMU.
The fans inside the seating saloon are still of the original JR Central type in good working condition.
Departing from Yangon Railway Station for the 3-hour journey around Yangon.
Making a brief stop at Pagoda Road station.
As I was getting this shot, I was invited to the cab for the duration of the journey, so get ready for the photo spam of the Yangon Circular Railway.
A KiHa 40 series on the other side of the tracks bearing a fresh Myanmar Railways cream and red livery.
The original JR Hokkaido livery lies behind an advertisement in one of the middle cars.
Another ex-JR Central KiHa 40 set follows closely behind.
Making a brief stop at Lan Ma Daw station.
Approaching Pyay Road station.
Pyay Road station seems to have the most modern-looking shelters and concourse among all Yangon Circular Railway stations.
Approaching Shan Road station.
Making a brief stop at Shan Road station.
Another ex-JR Central KiHa 40 set passing through the station.
Approaching Ahlone Road station.
DF 1257 passing by as a light engine.
Approaching Panhlaing Road.
A rather interesting here with it bearing an island platform rather than the regular side platforms, and a tree sits right in the middle of it.
Taking the curve into Kemmendine.
Heading to the Kemmendine platforms.
Two rakes of Yangon Circular Railway coaches are seen stabling at Kemmendine yard.
The track to the Kemmendine platforms seem very well landscaped.
Making a stop at Kemmendine, which took a while so as to match the timetable again as the train was early.
An ex-JR East KiHa 38 from Kururi Line, pulling in to Kemmendine in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, the unique livery of the Kururi Line has been covered up with ads.
Heading back to the mainline.
Approaching Hanthawaddy station.
From here on, the stations look a lot more rural.
Approaching Hletaw station.
Making a brief stop at Hletaw station.
Local children playing volleyball beside the tracks.
A gateman giving the all clear for my train to pass through the railway crossing.
Approaching Kamayaut station.
Seems like it was a nice station building in its heyday.
An ex-JR Central KiHa 38 series passing by Kamayaut station in the opposing direction.
Approaching Thiri Myaing station.
Platform upgrading is in progress at this station, featuring high platforms for easy access to the Japanese trains.
The old station sign and low platform still remains in place at the front end.
Approaching Okkyin station.
Despite being a typical double track station with side platforms, the tracks seem further apart from each other here.
The line pinches back together after the station.
Approaching Thamaing station.
The new platforms are partially completed.
The front end of the new platforms are still under construction.
The station sign of Thamaing, without the English lettering.
Approaching Thamine Myothit station.
Making a brief stop at Thamine Myothit station.
Approaching Gyogone station.
A rather long platform here, with a variety of platform types.
A new big shelter is in place along with the new high platforms.
However, the regular station building and shelter still stands.
Cleared into Line 5 of Insein station.
The points here are placed very close to each other.
An ex-JR East KiHa 40 series (Tohoku Region) on the opposite side of the platform at Insein.
The original JR East livery still remains in good condition.
Insein seems to be a major station for passenger traffic, with lots of passengers boarding and alighting here.
Surprisingly, passengers use this bridge rather than simply crossing the tracks at track level.
A long-distance train passing through Insein station towards Yangon.
A familiar bygone sight – the Ircon YDM4 stabling at a loop line of Insein station. However, the YDM4 of Myanmar Railways do not bear any Indian Railway numbers.
The said YDM4 is hauling ballast hoppers, probably for track rehabilitation which will be seen later on in this post.
After Insein, the train travels on a single track.
While the line is technically double tracked, the inner track is under going track rehabilitation.
Another all clear for passing through the railway crossing.
Hmm, the new inner track looks disappointingly clean – no more shaky train rides soon.
Inspectors on the track.
New signals as well.
Approaching Ywama station.
Making a brief stop at Ywama station.
A railway staff welding a new railway crossing vehicle block on the rehabilitated line.
A mini tamping machine being used to adjust the sleeper into the ballast.
Workers manually pull the track to straighten it.
Approaching Phawkan station.
An unknown road rail vehicle at Phawkan station.
New high platforms are being built here too.
Lots of new rails for the track rehabilitation project.
Approaching Aung San Myo station.
New platforms being raised here too.
Lots of ballast for the track rehabilitation project.
Digging up the track bed for a new point installation.
Correctly digging up all of the old track bed to fill in a new one – do look at this, a certain ASEAN country.
Approaching Danyingon station, the junction station for the main line to continue onwards to Pyay, Bagan and Mandalay (and next junction for the commuter line to Computer University), and for the Yangon Circular Railway to start the loop back to Yangon.
Danyingon station is also home to a rather unknown (for a tourist) but bustling railway market.
Lots of fresh produce on the platforms…
… and on the tracks too. Freshly smoked vegetables anyone?
Another major station on the line, many passengers alighted and boarded here, as not all trains continue on to the loop, hence the surge of passengers.
Departing from Danyingon station.
Splitting away from the main line to Pyay.
Taking a nice curve towards Golf Course.
The drains where tracks cross look rather scary though.
Approaching Golf Course (Gaw Gwin) station.
A rather quiet station here. I guess if you can afford to go to the Yangon Golf Club, you won’t be needing to use this station.
Making a brief stop at Golf Course station.
The ride between Golf Course and Kyaikkale is the longest distance between two stations on the Yangon Circular Railway, so it was a nice fast, breezy and enjoyably bumpy ride.
Until you see a herd of buffaloes in front of you and the train crawls till the farmer takes care of them.
A new meaning to “line block” here.
Once the buffaloes were settled, the train continued on at speed again.
Approaching Kyaikkale station.
Making a brief stop at Kyaikkale station.
A makeshift pedestrian crossing on the track.
A nice curve along towards Mingalardonzay.
Another ex-JR Central KiHa 40 set passing by.
Approaching Mingalardonzay (Mingaladon Bazaar) station.
A rather sharp bend ahead.
Approaching Mingaladon station.
The train stopped here for about 10 minutes as it was before time.
The exterior of my Japanese KiHa 40 ride around Yangon.
Departing from Mingaladon station.
Approach to Runway 21 of Yangon International Airport.
Skirting around the airport boundary.
Approaching Waibargi station.
A 5-car KiHa 38 set approaching Waibargi station in the opposing direction.
Approaching Okkalapa station.
Making a brief stop at Okkalapa station.
Approaching Paywetseikkon station.
Anotherr KiHa 38 set approaching Paywetseikkon station in the opposing direction.
Approaching Kyaukyedwin station.
Kyaukyedwin looks like a market too, but a lot more neater than Danyingon.
Continuing on to Tadagale.
Approaching Tadagale station.
More volleyball by the railway tracks.
Making a brief stop at Yegu.
Approaching Payami station.
Making a brief stop at Payami station.
Another ex-JR East KiHa 40 series (Tohoku Region) passing by on the opposite side.
Approaching Kanbe station.
Lots of passengers boarding here.
Approaching Baukhtaw station.
Making a brief stop at Baukhtaw station.
Approaching Tamwe station.
Making a brief stop at Tamwe station.
Approaching Myitta Nyunt station.
Making a brief stop at Myitta Nyunt.
Approaching the main line from Mandalay to Yangon.
The line from this junction to Yangon is quadruple-tracked.
A locomotive-hauled service on the Yangon Circular Railway.
Passing by the Mahlwagone yard.
Approaching Mahlwagone station.
Making a brief stop at Mahlwagone station, with kids playing soccer on the platform and the KiHa 40 set spotted at Insein crossing here too.
Approaching Puzundaung station.
Mahlwagone and Puzundaung stations seem to have elaborate bridges across the platforms.
Here, the train waits for the signal to be cleared in to Yangon Central Railway Station.
A diamond crossing paradise lies ahead.
Crossing over from one side of the quadruple track to the other.
Diamond crossings galore.
I think this junction alone consists of more diamond crossings than other countries’ entire railway networks.
Cleared into Line 7 West of Yangon Central Railway Station.
Travelling alongside an empty rake being shunted into the yard.
Crossing under a vehicular bridge. Notice how all tracks have to sink in for the trains to fit under the bridge.
Entering Yangon Central Railway Station.
Taking the loop line to Line 7 West as there is another train on the block of Line 7 East.
Yangon Circular Railway trains on the anti-clockwise loop readying for departure.
A last diamond crossing into Line 7 West.
Arrived at Yangon Railway Station after 2 hours and 53 minutes around Yangon, though with the cab ride, it felt as if it was just 30 minutes.
This train would continue on to Insein where it will head back to the yard.
Another passenger took my “first class” spot for the journey on to Insein – excellent choice.
Goodbye, and thanks for the amazing tour of Yangon for just 200 kyats.
Overall, the Yangon Circular Railway experience was amazing with friendly and welcoming staff everywhere, the bumpiness of the journey, the local experience on board the train and most definitely, the cab ride experience around Yangon.
This experience was made even more memorable with the friendly train crew on board who were very welcoming to me and my friends, and pointed out certain attractions and railway systems along the line – even comparing the YDM4s of Myanmar and Malaysia.
11/10 would do this trip again and again.