Full steam ahead for rail tourism

Dzulfadly (right) holding the signed agreement with Suhaimi (left) while Razali (centre) and Rani Hisham (in green) look on. 

THOSE who fancy steam locomotive trains can now look forward to enjoying a ride on the vintage train in January next year.

The train will offer passengers a 380km journey from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth in Penang. It has a maximum capacity of 320 passengers at a time.

Passengers alight at the ferry terminal in Butterworth.

Two sets of trains are expected to operate each day, with one train from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth and the other from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur.

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) has signed a railway service agreement with Great Leisure Heritage Rail Sdn Bhd (GLHR) to introduce the Tourism Heritage Steam Locomotive Train in Malaysia.

GLHR managing director Datuk Paduka Dzulfadly Abdullah said he got the idea to revive the steam locomotive heritage tours after a visit to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and London, England.

“The traditional steam locomotive train is a major tourist attraction in suburban London.

“They have appeal and we aim to transform them into remarkable tourist attractions,” he said.

Dzulfadly said the proposed train journey that would run across Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Penang would help boost tourism.

An illustration of the steam locomotive for the Kuala Lumpur-Butterworth routes.An illustration of the steam locomotive for the Kuala Lumpur-Butterworth routes.

“Heritage railways offer a unique way to learn about history besides the chance to enjoy the scenery along the railway line,” he said after the agreement was signed in Putrajaya.

He added that the project would generate value-added prospects for cottage industries in arts, craft and culture to expand their revenue stream.

It would also create employment opportunities for local experts, including skilled management and engineering personnel.

Great Leisure is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DS Rail Mobility Sdn Bhd, which is a Malaysian locomotive manufacturing company established in 2019.

Passengers will get to see the steam locomotive train class 56 KTM and experience refurbished coaches with designs inspired by the country’s legends Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Saloma.

They would also enjoy services on board the train apart from getting the merchandise sold during the journey.

The steam locomotive train will use eco-friendly energy, namely the oil-fired Euro 5 and water steam. It is now being refurbished in Sydney, Australia, while the passenger coaches are from Indonesia.

“The passenger coaches and steam locomotives are currently 70% completed.

“Once it is completed, we will send local engineers to Australia for further checks,” said Dzulfadly.

KTMB chief corporate officer Suhaimi Yaacob said the collaboration would enhance both KTMB and GLHR’s services, leading to a more sustainable railway transportation network.

“We are confident this strategic collaboration will provide an invaluable train travel experience to passengers and further improve train services in the country as well as be the main catalyst in driving economic development through rail transport and tourism as a whole.

“Also, corporations can request for specific packages to accommodate corporate tours or even wedding receptions,” he said.

Also present during the signing ceremony were Transport Ministry deputy secretary-general (Management) Datuk Razali Mohammad, KTMB chief executive officer Rani Hisham Samsudin and Malaysia Rail Development Corporation (MRDC) chief executive officer Hasry Harun.

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