GEORGE TOWN: A stray dog has been blamed for the 26-hour breakdown of the Penang Hill train service on May 3.
Independent contractor Earl Kohler confirmed the dog was one of three canines that had tried to cross the railway track at about 4pm on the day, Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Lee Kah Choon told a press conference at the hill yesterday.
Lee said the dog hit a sensitive component of the coach – the power collector, which collects electricity from the track to power the air-conditioner, computer and door systems.
“When the collector was damaged, we had to shut down the train service to do the necessary repairs,” he said.
The RM73mil upgraded system was brought to a halt a mere eight days after the service was re-opened to the public following a 14-month hiatus.
About 300 tourists, who were stranded on the hill, were brought down in stages from 4.30pm to 7pm on May 3 after the train’s emergency power supply was activated.
“We have estimated the loss and repairs to cost about RM30,000. We have also asked the manufacturer to see how we can better protect the sensitive component,” he said.
Australian-based Kohler, who was present, said the coach was travelling at 4m per second towards the bottom station when three dogs suddenly crossed the track. One hit the coach.
Kohler suggested several preventive actions, including putting a buffer in front and the rear of the coach to deflect any animals that might be on the track.
He added that the PHC could have rectified the fault in less than an hour if they had spare parts in stock.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had weighed in after the accident, saying that he did not discount the possibility of sabotage with regards to the breakdown.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said there should not be any finger-pointing over the incident.
“We just want to see that it runs and operates well to get tourists up. They should stop pointing fingers at everyone,” she told reporters after launching the ministry’s Facebook Citrawarna 1Malaysia online dance game contest yesterday.
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