Burma Mines Railway

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The Burma Mines Railway is a 2ft/610mm narrow gauge(NG) railway in Burma (now Myanmar) for the transportation of locally mined silver and lead ore to a smelter at Namtu, Mandalay.

The mines at Bawdin were old Chinese silver workings which had been abandoned some centuries before when the water level had been reached; the lead slag that remained after extraction of the silver had been left on the site and estimated to total at least 150,000 tons [1].

Originally privately owned by the 'Burma Mines, Railway and Smelting Co Ltd.', the line first carried slag in late 1909

The line runs from Namyao, on the Mandalay-Lashio Branch Railway of Burma Railway (now Myanmar Railways), via Namtu to Bawdwin and is 80 kilometres (50 miles) long.


The Burma Mines, Railway and Smelting Co Ltd was founded in March 1906 and the construction of the railway started in 1907, to reach the Tiger Camp mining area in 1908, with a 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) extension to the Bawdwin mines and included a Z-reverse at Wallah Gorge, just before Tiger Camp, which was later replaced by a spiral. [2]

The railway's headquarters and workshops were built in Namtu. In 1914 the connection with the metre gauge Burma Railways was moved from Manpwe to Namyao, a short distance to the east.

After the First World War, the local 'Burma Corporation Ltd' took over operations and built an electrified underground railway at Tiger Camp and 100 hopper cars were ordered from the American Pressed Steel Car Company.

In the 1930s the line experienced its peak traffic. Steam was largely replaced in the 1970s and 1980s but today two steam locos remain in working order.

External Links


  1. “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry SH01 page ...
  2. Mike's Railway History "Hill Lines of India - Construction and Operation of Some Steeply Graded Routes";Retrieved 10 Dec 2015