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Saturday August 15, 2009

New RM60mil train system for Penang Hill ready by next July

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM60mil project on a new funicular train system for Penang Hill is expected to be completed by July next year.

The new system – which is safer, low on maintenance and cost effective – is able to fetch up to 80 people per trip in about 10 minutes non-stop.

Scenic ride: A file picture showing tourists boarding the train on Penang Hill.

The present 82-year-old system can only ferry 60 people on 30-minute trips and passengers have to get down at the middle station to take another coach up the hill.

This has resulted in passengers having to wait for several hours to catch the train during peak periods.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the new system would be more comfortable and convenient to passengers as the interchange stop could be a hassle especially during rainy days.

“The new coach is air-conditioned with a glass roof that allows travellers to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the hill,” she told a press conference at her office here yesterday.

She said the decision on the new system was made following meetings with the Works Ministry, Penang Hill residents and non-governmental organisations including Penang Heritage Trusts and Friends of Penang Hill.

Dr Ng said the ministry was expecting more tourists to visit Penang Hill which had great potential in garden and park tourism.

“My wish is to make Penang Hill the most beautiful garden in the world.

“Last year, the hill received 368,000 tourists of which over 36% were foreigners,” she said, adding that the state government would manage, operate and maintain the funicular service.

Dr Ng said the funicular service would be closed for about six months next year to facilitate the construction work.

During the closure, travellers would have to travel up the hill in jeeps, she said.

“I hope the residents will help monitor the construction to make sure there is minimal damage,” she added.

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