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 Penang Hill Funicular Railway


Penang Hill funicular railway bid adieu to us on 22nd February 2010. After several decades of service, the railway system is put on retirement, in favor of a faster system that would be able to take more people at a faster rate.

penang hill 01
One of the last coaches of Penang Hill funicular train. Photo courtesy of Veronica Greer.

I had the chance to get on Penang Heritage Trust monthly tour on 7th March 2010, to get on the train for the last time.

Both my children tagged along, my hope is that they would remember this unique experience when they grow older.

We were allowed to go inside the engine room. Big wheels of steel and a complicated pulley system with brakes. Basically, that was what it was.

This rail system was one of major Penang tourists attractions. There was no doubt about it.

The slow ride, with the halfway exchange mid station, was a whole treat in itself. In this case, the journey was as important as the destination. We could see the vista of the island unfold slowly, the higher we went up.

Truthfully, there is not much to see on top of the hill. It is not a place where everyone would get excited about. Besides the much cooler temperature than at sea level, this is a sleepy small hilltop station that houses a small hotel, a restaurant, a favorite retreat of our former Prime Minister, a clinic, some places of worship and also a police station.

Penang hill Funicular railway

Some older coaches can be viewed at our state museum, at the top of Penang Hill and also at the National Museum.  Before, the coaches were made of wood with iron frame, a deceptively simple construction that made you marvel.

Over the years, Penang Hill funicular railway coaches were replaced three times. So by looking at these pictures, we could have an idea of transformation that took place.

Penang hill Funicular railway

Penang hill Funicular railway

Penang hill Funicular railway

Penang hill Funicular railway

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