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Tuesday August 23, 2011

End of the line for train stop

Earmarked for demolition: The old railway station had served Penang for 44 years.

BUTTERWORTH: The 44-year-old Butterworth Railway Station will soon be pulled down to make way for a multi-million-ringgit state-of-the-art replacement.

The old station was officially closed on Aug 5 and is now replaced with a temporary station located about 30m away, next to the KTM Bhd (KTMB) parcel office.

When contacted in Kuala Lumpur, KTMB corporate communications senior manager Mohd Fazil Ismail said the new building was expected to be completed by first quarter of next year.

“The new station will be equipped with CCTV cameras for better security as well as facilities for the disabled.

“Construction work on the new station will go in tandem with the Ipoh-Padang Besar electrified double track project, which is expected to be ready by 2014,” he said yesterday.

The old station, which was opened by the country’s fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the late Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Zainal Abidin, in 1967, is also the only station in Malaysia with a 0km distance meter.

The 0km distance meter indicates that this is the beginning of the rail distance calculation for trains that head north for Padang Besar and south for Singapore.

An employee at the station said two cranes were used to shift a 1936 steam engine locomotive and a shunting locomotive head from the station’s old entrance to the opposite of the temporary station.

The fully air-conditioned temporary station has a ticketing counter, two VIP rooms, a room for the stationmaster, police beat, surau and toilets.

Commuter Teoh Teik Wah, 60, said he was surprised to find the old station closed, noting that there was no prior notice about it in the media.

His wife Lee Kan Sean, 67, said she had been taking the train to visit her family in Kuala Lumpur for the past 50 years, noting that the old station evoked a nostalgic feeling in her.

Factory supervisor L. Munusamy, 48, said he waited outside the old station for almost an hour on Sunday night to fetch his relatives, only to find out later that they had arrived at the temporary station.

“The new platform at the temporary station is barely 4m-wide which is almost half the size of the old platform.

“Although it has a high aluminium roofing, part of platform is wet whenever there is a heavy downpour,” he said.

Money changer-cum-book stall operator Mohamed Sirajuddin Abu Mohd, 38, said many passengers complained of having to walk in the rain and sun for nearly 30m between the sheltered overhead pedestrian bridge outside the old station and the temporary station.

“Car parking facilities are also inadequate as the parking area outside the station has become smaller following land acquisition for the new station project.

“I spent about RM40,000 to construct a temporary shop outside the station, which was completed in June,” he said, adding that he still had to pay rental to KTMB for the temporary trading site.