Train Travel Myanmar
There are many views about train travel in Myanmar but for me the slow trains, old , the journey is worth it.
from wikitravel : http://wikitravel.org/en/Myanmar
Myanmar has an extensive but ancient rail network. Trains are slow, noisy, often delayed, have frequent electrical blackouts, and toilets are in abysmal sanitary condition. Never assume that air-conditioners, fans, or the electrical supply itself will be operational, even if the train authorities promise so. Still, a journey on a train is a great way to see the country and meet people. The rail journey from Mandalay, up switchbacks and hairpin bends to Pyin U Lwin, and then across the mountains and the famous bridge at Gokteik, is one of the great railway journeys of the world. Trains in lower Myanmar (Yangon – Pathein and Yangon – Mawlymaing) are little communities of their own with hawkers selling everything imaginable. Sleepers are available on many overnight express trains, although, in the high season, you may want to reserve a few days in advance (the Yangon-Mandalay trains now run in the daytime only, apparently because the government does not want trains passing Naypyidaw at night). Food service is available on the express up and the express down between Yangon and Mandalay as well as on the Yangon – Mawlymaing run.
Except for the new bridge and rail line that connects Mawlymaing to points on the western side of the Salween River, the rail network is exactly the way it was in British times. The most used line is the 325km line from Yangon to Mandalay with several trains a day (this is also the only double line in Myanmar), and the only one that is competitive in time with buses (note that the fastest trains take 15 hours for the 385km run, an effective rate of 25km/hour!). A second line connects Yangon with Pyay (9 hours for the 175km journey!) with a branch heading off into the delta region town of Pathein. These tracks, the earliest constructed are in poor shape. With the construction of the bridge across the Salween, it is now possible to go by train from Yangon to Mawlymaing (8 hours for the 200km journey) and on to Ye (Ye is closed to foreign travellers). From Mandalay, trains continue on to Myitkyina in Kachin State (350km in 24hours) and to Lashio. There are also rail connections between Yangon-Bagan and Mandalay-Bagan, but bus or ferry are better alternatives (The 175km from Mandalay to Bagan takes 10hrs).
from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goteik_viaduct
Goteik viaduct (Burmese: ဂုတ်ထိပ်တံတား, also known as Gohteik viaduct) is a railway trestle in Nawnghkio, western Shan State, Myanmar (also known as Burma). The bridge is between the two towns of Pyin U Lwin, the summer capital of the former British colonial administrators of Burma, and Lashio, the principal town of northern Shan State. It is the highest bridge in Myanmar and when it was completed, the largest railway trestle in the world. The bridge is located approximately 100 km northeast of Mandalay.
The viaduct stretches 689 metres (2,260 ft) from end to end with 15 towers which span 12 metres (39 ft) along with a double tower 24 metres (79 ft) long. The 15 towers support 10 deck truss spans of 37 metres (121 ft) along with six plate girder spans 18 metres (59 ft) long and an approach span of 12 metres (39 ft). Many sources have put the height of the bridge at 250 metres (820 ft). This is supposedly a measurement to the river level as it flows underground through a tunnel at the point it passes underneath the trestle. The true height of the bridge as measured from the rail deck to the ground on the downstream side of the tallest tower is 102 metres (335 ft). The cost of the bridge construction was 111,200 £(Pound sterling).
Due to its technical and natural condition it was considered as a masterpiece of the world standard.
The bridge was constructed in 1899 and completed in 1900 by Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction. The components were made by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, and the parts were shipped from the United States. The rail line was constructed as a way for the British Empire to expand their influence in the region. The construction project was overseen by Sir Arthur Rendel, engineer for the Burma Railroad Company.
Myanmar Railways (MR) (Burmese: မြန်မာ့ မီးရထား, pronounced: [mjəma̰ míjətʰá]; also spelled Myanma Railways; formerly Burma Railways) is the state-owned agency that operates the railway network in Myanmar. The 5,403-kilometre (3,357 mi) metre gauge rail network consists of 858 stations,and generally spans north to south with branch lines to east and west. MR also operates the Yangon Circular Railway line, Yangon’s commuter rail network. MR operates 18 freight trains, and 379 passenger trains, transporting over 100,000 passengers daily.
The quality of the railroads is generally poor. Most remain in poor repair and are not passable during the monsoon season. The maximum speed for freight trains has been quoted as 24 km/h (15 mph), suggesting that commercial speeds on this section could be as low as 12–14 km/h (7.5–8.7 mph).
MR has steadily increased the reach of its network in the last two decades, from nearly 3200 km in 1988 to 5403 km in 2010. MR is currently undertaking an ambitious expansion program that will add another 3,645 km (2,265 mi) to its network, including extensions to Myeik in the south, Kyaingtong in the east, Sittwe in the west. Also, conversion from metre gauge to standard gauge is proposed.