Monday, February 22, 2010

Penang Hill’s funicular trains into history

Bye bye old Penang Hill’s funicular trains.... a new trains will be installed and operated in 10 mth time. I am gonna miss it as i actually plan to bring my family up the hill on Day 2 or Day 3 of CNY, but due to fact that too crowded and bringing 2 children was really tough. So we are going to take the train when it the upgrading works is completed later.













Lim pays tribute to Federal Govt for the RM63mil rail service upgrade

GEORGE TOWN: Penangites pass-ed on catching a last glimpse of Penang Hill’s funicular trains as the four iconic red coaches made their last runs to the hilltop.

The funicular runway that was completed in 1923 will cease operations today for at least seven months to make way for a RM63mil upgraded system.

A check by The Star at the ticket counter in the lower station showed that no more than the normal number of visitors had decided to ride the funicular trains yesterday, with the counter clocking in about 1,000 visitors at 2pm.

Even though there was no last- minute rush to the hill, a large number of visitors were still seen at the state’s most popular attraction throughout the day, the majority of them being foreigners or other local tourists.

“We just arrived in Penang 24 hours ago and we had seen on the Internet that this would be the last day to experience the funicular train,” said communications consultant Judith Sullivan, 64, an American.

Husband Steve Staton, also 64, said they had done their research before arriving in the country and were looking forward to seeing the monkeys, hiking trails and other attractions on the hill.

Retired rubber tapper Lim Poh Lai, 73, was seen making her second trip up the hill after 55 years.

“My first trip was when I was 18 years old. I came with three friends on a visit to the state,” said Lim, who hails from Johor.

She said being back in Penang at the time the funicular train was making its last run was purely a lucky coincidence.

“I just happened to be in the state for a holiday. I feel very lucky to be able to make one last trip on the train before it ceases operation,” she said.

Meanwhile, a check at the middle station revealed that work has already begun to clear a wider space for the new track.

Funicular train officers on the scene said the work, which has so far been done manually, started about three months ago.

In the upgrading project undertaken by the Tourism Ministry, visitors will no longer need to get off at the middle station as the new, spacious and air-conditioned coaches will take passengers non-stop to the hilltop.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who boarded the last train ride at 8.30pm last night together with state executive councillors, oversaw a closing ceremony of the present train which ran for 87 consecutive years.

He paid tribute to the Federal Government for allocating RM63mil to upgrade the Penang Hill rail service, saying this injection of funds would spark a revival of the hill as the state’s premier tourist attraction.

The new train system’s commuting time is only between five and 10 minutes, compared to the 30 minutes via the old service.

Lim also said that the contractor would preserve historic elements of the present track such as the tunnel and bridge, while the train could carry up to 18,000 passengers daily.

He added that the state would embark on a major cleanliness campaign atop the landmark before the new train service commences.

Lim also spoke on the need to conserve as many heritage buildings as possible on the hill, considering that Penang is enjoying an international heritage status as proclaimed by Unesco

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