Thailand - Burma railway

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Location: Banned

The highlight of my holiday to date was on Fri.11.7.

I went by bus to Hellfire Pass, and walked over the 3.5 km of prepared walking train, now set up as an Australian War Memorial Site.

I also covered 1 km beyond the prepared limit, but not the 4 km which a sign advised was available.  That information was not on any of the blogs or official sites which I had consulted before departure.  My start was too late to add the extra and be out by the 16.00 closing time.

Google on Hellfire pass railway.

To do the lot: start at Kanchanaburi, hourly buses.  Finish by 15.00 for the 15.20 bus, or by 16.00 for the 16.20 bus.

In Kanchanaburi, there is a Garratt preserved opposite the war cemetery.  Probably this is the one formerly at the station (I doubt that there are two in the town).

Roderick B Smith

Rail News Victoria Editor

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Yangon - U Tung Naung (Mon businessman), Ministry of Railway just has approved the project of making a rail connection with Thailand by following the old Death Railway from Thanbyuzayat to Payathonzu village (Three pagoda village on Burmese side which is just 112 km from Thanbyuzayat). The construction will be started very soon to promote the trading between Burma and Thailand after Mon rebels have made a peace talk with Burmese government and discussion with U Aung Min (Minisiter of railways). This railway will also allow the hinter land to have the sea access to Mawlamyine via Thanbyuzayat ... an big boon indeed ..

 
ianadunn Station Master

The Garratt was still outside Kanchanaburi station in January...

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

[quote="ianadunn"]The Garratt was still outside Kanchanaburi station in January...[/quote]


I knew if I waited around long enough that everybody I know would eventually turn up.


Nice to hear from you Ian.

 
awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney

Yangon - U Tung Naung (Mon businessman), Ministry of Railway just has approved the project of making a rail connection with Thailand by following the old Death Railway from Thanbyuzayat to Payathonzu village (Three pagoda village on Burmese side which is just 112 km from Thanbyuzayat). The construction will be started very soon to promote the trading between Burma and Thailand after Mon rebels have made a peace talk with Burmese government and discussion with U Aung Min (Minisiter of railways). This railway will also allow the hinter land to have the sea access to Mawlamyine via Thanbyuzayat ... an big boon indeed ..

- Tonymercury



Hopefully the old and closed line has curves and gradients that are unsuitable for a modern railway, so that these sections including Helllfire pass will be left untouched as tourist attractions.


 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

I suspect that it might turn out that the Japanese did find the best line. it turns out that there were several bodies of specialist Japanese railway troops involved in the whole project. This would mean that the only changes would be those that can be achieved with modern engineering techniques. 

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

I suspect that it might turn out that the Japanese did find the best line. it turns out that there were several bodies of specialist Japanese railway troops involved in the whole project. This would mean that the only changes would be those that can be achieved with modern engineering techniques. 

- Tonymercury



Agreed, unless a lot of tunneling is done the railway is likely to follow the existing route.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Amazing Biodiversity in jeopardy

It is hoped Sai Yok National Park's magnificent wilderness and wildlife will survive into the foreseeable future

 

On Dec 8, 1941, the same day of the Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii (Dec 7 in the US), the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Thailand with thousands of troops and settled in. Sometime in 1942, a decision was made to build a railway from Bangkok to Burma and beyond through the thick malaria- and tiger-infested jungles in Kanchanaburi province using Allied and Asian prisoners of war as construction labour.

Regal crab, named after Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

Thousands died under the harsh and sometimes brutal conditions. Remnants of this rail line remain today in Sai Yok National Park. Numerous monuments to the men who lost their lives have been erected in Kanchanaburi, and the main cemetery in town is close to the rail line and the famous Bridge over the River Kwai (Khwae).

Apart from its popular waterfalls and river trips, this national park is not that well known. Situated in Kanchanaburi province, along Thailand's western border with Myanmar, its interior is truly a magnificent wildlife paradise encompassing exactly 500km2. However, it may not remain so for long, as poaching and forest encroachment continue to be problems for the Department of National Parks (DNP).

Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, the world’s smallest flying mammal.

The headquarters of the protected area is at Sai Yok Yai waterfall, about one hundred kilometres upstream from Kanchanaburi town on the Khwae Noi River. This site is visited by scores of local and foreign tourists every year that come to see the waterfall and the smaller one at Sai Yok Noi, both of which are only a short distance off Highway 323 going north. Activities on the river include swimming, rafting, boating and picnicking.

Deep inside the park, however, one of the world's smallest mammals, Kitti's hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) discovered by the late Thai zoologist Kitti Thonglongya, is found in limestone caves along the remote Mae Nam Noi and Khwae Noi rivers. Previously, it was thought to be endemic but now this creature has been found in other isolated pockets elsewhere in Kanchanaburi, and is also thought to survive in neighbouring Myanmar.

This flying mammal weighs barely two grammes. Aptly, it has been called the ''bumblebee bat'' and has an average wingspan of just three inches. It uses sonar to forage for insects during short periods each night _ about 30 minutes _ in the evening and again for 20 minutes just before dawn. Numbers are few and it is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable. At one time, this remarkable little mammal was in fact one of the world's 12 most endangered animals. Constant foraging by locals for guano and catching bats with mist-nets is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Also found in this same area is the regal crab or queen crab (Thaiputsa sirikit) discovered in 1983 and named in honour of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. This crustacean is known locally as the ''three-coloured crab''. With their white body, purple stripe down the back, and red legs, the regal crab is truly a pretty sight.

Leopard camera trapped.

Like most crabs, they live in holes, which they dig along the banks of the river. They come out at night to forage for food eating mainly composted leaves. Now few in number, this is yet another species that is seriously endangered and needs complete protection.

Fortunately, the locals in the area have stopped eating them since they were named after the Her Majesty the Queen. They are now protecting the few crabs that are left. This is a case of true conservation and hopefully, the species will survive into the future.

Elephants, gaurs, tigers and leopards plus many other species, still survive in the interior of the park, but all wild animals are dwindling. Sambars, serows, muntjacs, tapirs and wild pigs are also found and constitute the main prey species for big cats. Asian black bears, Malayan sun bears, clouded leopards, golden cats and marble cats plus many smaller species like civets, porcupines, gibbons and monkeys live here but like all the rest, they too are threatened. Birds, reptiles and insects flourish, as well as plant life.

Like most national parks in Thailand, Sai Yok is a target for poaching and logging, which seem to go hand in hand. Most of the wildlife is hunted for trophies and meat, primarily during the dry season when there is good road access. It is sometimes common to see poachers in the park, cruising along the roads in vehicles or on motorcycles. Illegal logging has been carried out along the Khwae Noi, Mae Nam Noi and Mae Nam Lo rivers. This has seriously eroded their banks.

Other forms of encroachment include cattle and buffalo corrals that are set up deep in the forest where fodder is easily available. The chance of foot and mouth disease being passed on to wild ungulates is real. Fruit orchards pop up in areas along the river inhibited by wild creatures and seem to thrive. Constant illegal activities are affecting the status of the park's wildlife and watershed integrity.

Crab-eating macaque.

The forests in Sai Yok are mostly tropical broad-leaved evergreen with much bamboo and mixed deciduous woodlands in the foothills. The highest peak, Khao Khewa, at 1,327 metres above sea level, is part of the Tenasserim Range that runs through the park from north to south. The area was formerly logged so the park has many thin patches where big trees were felled. However, heavy brush continues to grow back strongly in these areas.

During the height of the rainy season, between July and October, Sai Yok's wildlife roam and feed fairly safely due to the rough weather and almost impenetrable terrain. The rivers and streams in the park become raging torrents that make crossing them next to impossible. About the only way in is by long-tailed motorboat, with a very skilled operator.

Many boats and rafts have been washed away in rapids on the Mae Nam Noi and Mae Nam Lo rivers. Occasionally, 4x4 off-road vehicles become stuck in the park after heavy rains. Some have even had to wait until the dry season to get out. Elephants just love to play football with these vehicles left behind. I know a man who left his Land Rover through the rainy season and when he returned, it had been flipped over and completely smashed.

Another very important aspect of Sai Yok is that gaurs and elephants come across the border from Myanmar to feed on bamboo shoots in August and September, and then return to the safety of the other side prior to the dry season. Equally interesting, there are unofficial reports of a ''hybrid cattle'' _ possibly a cross between gaur and banteng _ that have been seen by locals.

The numbers of all animals are dwindling, however, due to increased activity in the park. Just a decade ago, green peafowl were found here, but they have neither been seen nor heard from for many years. The ever-shrinking wilderness area of Sai Yok is under threat that should be addressed by the DNP if its flora and fauna are to survive intact.

Sai Yok has always been special to me. I basically began my career as a wildlife photographer here after making a promise to the ''spirits of the forest'' to begin documenting Thailand's wildlife with a camera. Some of my first photographs are the regal crab and the Kitti's hog-nosed bat shown in the story. I also camera trapped my first and second tiger in the interior. I recently caught a leopard by camera trap along a trail by the river seen here.

The future of Sai Yok as one of Thailand's most beautiful and important national parks depends in great measure on the DNP and their ability to enforce the law. Reportedly, greater efforts are being made by the department to protect the park and its precious wildlife and ecosystems. Some poachers and encroachers have been arrested, but such campaigns can be difficult to sustain. The long-term effects will become clear over time.

It is hoped this magnificent wilderness and its wildlife will survive into the foreseeable future. In particular, the home of the world's smallest bat needs serious attention and protection. It would be a sad day for Thailand if this prestigious mammal were to be lost to extinction.

Visit http://www.brucekekule.com.

Care-dwelling nectar-eating bats.

Khwae Noi River.

Mae Nam Lo.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

The historic Burma Railway, originally built by Japanese-held prisoners of war (POWs) during World War II, is due to be restored in a new initiative which aims to improve bilateral trade with Thailand.

Burmese Railway Minister Aung Min, also a leading government peace negotiator, told the opening ceremony of the Karen National Union (KNU) liaison office in Three Pagodas Pass on Tuesday that talks were already underway with Thailand regarding construction of the railway.

Measuring 415 kilometers (258 miles) from Bangkok to Rangoon, Aung Min said that the project will also benefit the businesses of local people who live near Three Pagodas Pass. However, the railway project hinges on Naypyidaw securing a lasting peace deal with the Karen rebels.

“Our citizens will only have to make a daytrip to Thailand after construction is completed,” said Aung Min. “Local development will also grow much more than before.”

In 1943, thousands of Allied POWs and Asian laborers worked under the Imperial Japanese Army on what became known as the “Death Railway.” Around 1,740 people were killed during the construction process with many buried at nearby Kanchanaburi’s war cemetery.

The railway was abandoned over six decades ago due to fighting between the KNU and government troops. But local car drivers continue to use the route to travel from Three Pagodas Pass to Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, or Kyar Inn Seik Gyi Township, Karen State.

Aung Min said that the government will soon restart construction of the abandoned railway and so private vehicles would be forbidden from using the route, but that a dedicated road would be built alongside for cars.

Naypyidaw also has plans to open a Special Economic Zone in Three Pagodas Pass to aid local development, according to Nai Seik Lyi, a representative from the New Mon State Party.

Three Pagodas Pass is the KNU’s second liaison office after one was opened in Dawei (Tavoy) earlier this year. Around 400 people including Gen Mutu Say Poe, head of the Karen National Liberation Army—the KNU’s military wing, attended Tuesday’s opening ceremony.

Aung Min told those present that peace can be restored in Burma as the country is reforming its political situation and started heading towards democracy. He added that deals with ethnic armed groups were crucial to bring the country out of poverty and aid development, and asked KNU leaders to help him maintain a permanent peace.

Mutu Say Poe said that the KNU has been fighting for equal rights through armed struggle for 63 years and that there have been countless Burmese and Karen deaths since the country gained independence.

“We want the government to be sincere when they talk about solving political problem,” he said. “The permanence of peace depends on the sincerity of the government.”

Other senior officials from the Burmese government including Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi and the Karen State Chief Minister Zaw Min also attended the office opening.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Myanmar to reopen 'Death Railway'

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Myanmar aims to restore a stretch of the infamous ``Death Railway'' to Thailand which was initially built by Japanese-held prisoners of war, the minister in charge of the scheme says.

The railway was immortalised in the Oscar-winning film ``The Bridge on the River Kwai'' which showed the dreadful working conditions endured by tens of thousands of POWs who built the track during World War II.

A feasibility study on the 105-kilometre (65-mile) stretch running from Myanmar's ``Three Pagodas Pass'' area to Thailand is scheduled to begin in October, Railway Minister Aung Min said.

``We will reopen this (rail)road. The other countries said they would also help us and we will continue working for it,'' Aung Min said after peace talks with ethnic Shan rebels.

``We will do a survey and try to start working after the rainy season with the help of the international community.''

Long isolated under decades of army-rule, Myanmar has embarked on a rapid series of political and economic reforms under President Thein Sein, including moves to better relations with its neighbours.

The railway would provide a much-needed economic shot in the arm for the impoverished area, which is home to Myanmar's rebellious Karen ethnic group, by boosting trade with Thailand and attracting tourists.
 
Karen rebels signed a ceasefire with the government in January, a major breakthrough towards ending the long-running insurgency.

Built by the Japanese between 1942 and 1943 to shuttle supplies from Thailand into Myanmar, then called Burma, along a route that engineers had long considered impossible, the rail link was destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945.

Some 13,000 POWs succumbed to abuse, malnutrition and disease during the 14 months it took to carve the 424-kilometre (263-mile) railway through dense jungles and mountains, under orders from their Japanese captors.

It is also estimated that 80,000 to 100,000 Asian civilians, who were also used as forced labour, perished in the railway's construction but most of their remains have no known markers or graves.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Burma is planning to restore a stretch of the infamous Thai-Burma rail line, known as the Death Railway, which was initially built by Japanese-held prisoners of war during World War II.

Tens of thousands of POWs were forced to work in harrowing conditions to build the 424-kilometre railway through dense jungles and mountains.

By the time it was completed in 1943, at least 2,815 Australians, more than 11,000 and about 75,000 Asian labourers were dead.

A feasibility study on the 105-kilometre stretch running from Burma's Three Pagodas Pass area to Thailand is scheduled to begin in October, railway minister Aung Min said.

"We will reopen this (rail)road. The other countries said they would also help us and we will continue working for it," Mr Aung Min said after peace talks with ethnic Shan rebels.

"We will do a survey and try to start working after the rainy season with the help of the international community."

Long isolated under decades of army-rule, Burma has embarked a rapid series of political and economic reforms under its president Thein Sein, including moves to better relations with its neighbours.

The railway would provide a much-needed economic shot in the arm for the impoverished area, which is home to Burma's rebellious Karen ethnic group, by boosting trade with Thailand and attracting tourists.

Karen rebels signed a ceasefire with the government in January, a major breakthrough towards ending the long-running insurgency.

Japan built the railway during World War II to shuttle supplies from Thailand into Burma along a route that engineers had long considered impossible.

The rail link was destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Myanmar to Rebuild 'Death Railway'

21.05.2012 (16:20)

Myanmar has announced plans to restore a 105-kilometer section of the notorious "Death Railway" to Thailand built by Japanese-held prisoners of war during World War II.

Railway Minister Aung Min said "other countries" will help when work on the railroad starts in October.

The railway will provide a much needed economic boost for Myanmar's Three Pagodas Pass area and help attract tourists, officials say.

Some 13,000 POWs and 100,000 civilian forced laborers perished after being forced to work in inhumane conditions to build the 424-kilometer railroad between 1942 and 1943.

The rail link, which connected Myanmar with Thailand and Bangkok, was destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945.

The construction of a bridge along the link over the River Kwai was made famous by the novel and film "A Bridge on the River Kwai."

http://en.rian.ru

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed



Myanmar is planning to restore a stretch of the Thailand-Burma rail line, known as the Death Railway, which was built by prisoners of war during World War II.

The 424km railway line through dense jungles and mountains was completed in 1943 to transport supplies from Thailand to Myanmar (Burma), before it was destroyed by Allied bombers in 1945.

It is believed that about 100,000 Asian civilians and more than 13,000 POWs died during the construction phase of the track.

Myanmar Railway Minister Aung Min told AFP that a feasibility study on the 105km stretch, running through a narrow section of the country about 100m short of the Three PagodasPass chedi, should begin in October.

"The other countries said they would also help us and we will continue working for it," Min said.

"We will do a survey and try to start working after the rainy season with the help of the international community."

The longest section of the Death Railway in Thailand was destroyed after World War II and just one section remains, from Kanchanaburi town to Nam Tok, which is now being used by a daily tourist train.

The new railway line is expected to offer a much-needed economic boost for the impoverished area by increasing trade with Thailand and attracting tourists.

Image: Death Railway's one section remaining, from Kanchanaburi town to Nam Tok, is now being used by a daily tourist train. Photo: courtesy of MichaelJanich

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Bridge on the River Kwai” railway to be restored

Published: May 30, 2012

YANGON, Burma – In a plan to attract tourists and boost trade with Thailand, Burma said it would restore a 150-mile section of the railroad made famous by the film, “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” Mizzima News reports.

The 258-mile railroad from Rangoon, Burma, to Bangkok, Thailand, was built during World War II by prisoners of war. It was used to supply the Japanese army without the dangers of sending supplies by sea. The line, laid through jungles and mountains, was known as the “Death Railway” because more than 100,000 people died building it, including 16,000 Allied POWs. The Allies bombed the line in 1945. 

The most famous portion of the line is Bridge 277 across the Kwae Yai in Kachanaburi, Thailand, a popular tourist area. It was immortalised in David Lean’s 1957 film “The Bridge on the River Kwai” which centers on the construction of the bridge. Although the film was shot in Sri Lanka, the real bridge still carries passenger trains on the Thailand portion of the line. Burma will now restore the remainder of the route, from the Three Pagodas Pass area to Thailand.

 

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