PENANG: The Penang Hill funicular train service has resumed after being closed for eight months when a clamp holding a 2km cable gave way during upgrading works last December.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who re-launched the service at a ceremony at the foothill yesterday, said the repair works were actually completed a week ahead of schedule.
Residents have been allowed to take the train since Aug 1 while tourists have been allowed on board since Thursday, he said.
The service was stopped after the clamp gave way during upgrading works between the middle and upper stations. The runaway cable damaged the track and other installations along the way.
Dr Koh added that the total repair costs were estimated at RM2.5mil.
However, the resumed service came to a temporary halt when it encountered a technical hitch yesterday.
More than 100 tourists and residents were stranded during the two-hour period.
A spokesman for the train service said the technical hitch had interrupted the schedule of the remaining three trains, thus halting the train services up and down the hill from 5.30pm to about 7.30pm.
At a press conference after the re-launch, Dr Koh said the proposed cable car project linking Teluk Bahang to Penang Hill would start in two to three years' time.
He said the state did not want to rush into things, as the project would go through primary forests and virgin jungles.
We want to be careful as the project, which will be the second system on the hill, involves the environment, he said.
Dr Koh added that the alignment for the cable car project was still being worked out.
He also said that the state would implement a new train system, to be built on the existing one, once the cable car project was completed.
He also called on bus services to the foothill to be resumed as soon as possible now that the funicular train services were up and running.
Present were state Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Datuk Koay Kar Huah, state Tourism Development and Environment Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow, Air Itam assemblyman Cheang Chee Gooi, Kebun Bunga assemblyman Quah Kooi Heong, state Public Works Department director Datuk Dr Ashaari Mohamad, Penang Hill Residents Association chairman M. Arunasalam and association treasurer Beh Weng Hak.