Burma, Mandalay Tramway

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Mandalay Tramway

Burma - Mandalay Tramway, 1914

The ‘Mandalay Tramway’ was an electric tramway, which ran on the overhead trolley system, operated by the Burma Electric Tramways and Lighting Co Ltd. The tramway had an approximate total length of 6.5 miles (11km) of double track. There are two sections, known as the Court-Pagoda and Shore sections, with termini at the Court House, Shanzu Railway Station, and Mandalay Shore. The main portion of the system was opened for public traffic on July 14, 1904, whilst the extension from 84th Street to Shanzu Street was first used on January 26, 1907. [1].

The 1904 ‘Street Railway Review - Electric tramway in Mandalay’ stated:- “the centre of the tramway system has been placed at the new Zegro bazaar, from which the tramway radiates in three branches, one leading to the shore, where steamers embark their passengers, the second running to the Arakan Pagoda, and the third leading to the Court House.” ThIs article, available online, includes some excellent photographs of the Mandalay Tramway [2].

The “Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908” states of the Mandalay Tramway ‘its present length is 6 miles (actually 6½ miles/10.4km)of double track. An application to construct a light tramway to Madaya is under consideration’[3]. Madaya is 15 miles(24km) north of Mandalay. There is no evidence this was built as a tramway but Madaya is on the Burma Railway metre gauge(MG) network.

The track and overhead cables were severely damaged during the air raid of 3 April 1942 and subsequently not recommissioned [4].

The Company

The Burma Electric Tramways and Lighting Co Ltd were owners of the Mandalay city overhead tramway trolley system. The company was registered in London, with a capital of £200,000. The directors were (1904) Messrs. E. C. Morgan (chairman), D. C. Ellis, F. C. Kennedy, C.I.E., and H. F. Kindersley. Mr. W. R. Elston is the secretary. The manager in Mandalay is Mr. A. C. Morgan, and Mr. E. J. Aldworth is assisted in his duties as engineer by Mr. J. E. Mallalieu [1]


The construction began in December 1902 by Dick, Kerr & Co., and the first car was moved electrically on 17 June 1904. The power house with three Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers with a working pressure of 160 lbs per square inch was built in 78th street alongside the necessary offices, car sheds and repair shops [5] and [4].

The track had a gauge of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) and a length of 7 miles (11 km), electrified double track throughout. The rails were 6 inches (150 mm) high with a 1.5 inches (38 mm) groove, laid at 45 feet (14 m) lengths. The rails were double spiked onto hardwood sleepers, which had been laid on a ballast bed . The rolling stock consisted of 24 electric motor cars. These were of the single deck, open, cross bench type, built by the Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works in Preston, Lancashire. The car bodies were 24 feet 4.5 inches (7,430 mm) in length and about 6 feet (1,800 mm) wide and provided seats for 48 passengers. The bogies were made by Brush and their wheels driven by two Dick, Kerr & Co. standard 25B motors, each capable of delivering approximately 28 hp and could be braked in emergency by specially arranged resistors. The roof frames were composed entirely of teak, covered by cotton laid in a wet coat of white paint. They had electric headlights with 100 volt [5].