THE Penang Hill cable car project will incorporate the best practices of other countries in constructing and implementing similar systems in and around sensitive sites.
As the area is a biosphere reserve, any impact on the environment must be minimised, said Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng.
“Many cable car systems around the world were designed and built in areas deemed critical, including other Unesco biosphere reserves or world heritage sites.
“We will learn from it and try to do even better,” he told a press conference after launching the Wall Art @ Penang Hill Lower Station mural.
It was earlier reported that the Penang Hill cable car project, estimated to cost RM245mil, was awarded to local rail company Hartasuma Sdn Bhd.
The planned 2.9km cable car line will boast 43 carriages and is expected to be able to ferry 1,000 passengers per hour at a speed of 6m per second.
The company will have a 30-year concession period, with the lower cable car station located near Penang Botanic Gardens.
There will be 15 towers along the line, and the journey from the lower to the upper station will take 10 minutes.
Cheok said technical details, such as selecting sites to build the pylons on the hillside, were still being finalised.
He said the company was working with experts from Switzerland and Austria to determine the optimal alignment with the least environmental impact, and how to rehabilitate the surroundings thereafter.
“We are adopting a science and engineering-based approach to tackle aspects people are most concerned about, such as environmental, traffic and social impacts,” he added.
Subject to all the regulatory approval and permits, Cheok said construction was expected to begin around the second quarter of next year and should be completed in 24 months.
“Our goal is to ensure the cable car system runs for many decades.
“It must be built to last, like our funicular train that has been running for a century,” he said.
Included in the project’s plan is the building of a multi-storey carpark near the Botanic Gardens.
Cheok said this would help resolve the lack of parking space in the area.
There will also be landscaping to make both the cable car and gardens a truly world-class attraction, he said.
Penang Hill gets about 1.3 million to 1.8 million visitors a year.
The cable car will complement the 100-year-old funicular railway from Ayer Itam.