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Myanmar's rickety railways poised for a revamp

Ambitious projects seek to get people off the roads and back on trains

Passengers and vegetables vie for space on the Yangon Circular Railway Line. (Photo: Peter Janssen)

YANGON -- As they pass Insein Station, a farmer and her fellow workers drag five huge bundles of vegetables to the front aisle of a railway car on the notoriously inefficient Yangon Circular Railway Line, forcing passengers to climb over the fresh produce if they want to enter or leave the carriage. The group appears content as they sit chopping and sorting the vegetables and throwing unwanted stems out the window until they reach Yangon Central Station.

The 46km-long train line, which was completed by the British in the former colonial capital in 1880, is notorious for being dirty, crowded and late. But that may all change by 2020.

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