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New Penang Hill Railway coaches arrive (Update #2)

TRANSIT notes this story in the Star which shows that the new Penang Hill Railway coaches have arrived in Penang.

Old Penang Hill Railway Coach - image courtesy of The Sun
New Penang Hill Railway Coach - image courtesy of The Star.

The total redesign of the Penang Hill Railway undertaken by the Tourism Ministry courted significant controversy because of the changes to the original design of the railway, including the removal of the middle station.

New hill railway coaches ready for the ride (The Star)
Friday August 20, 2010

GEORGE TOWN: The new Swiss-made coaches for the Penang Hill funicular train service have arrived.

The two coaches, each weighing 16 tonnes and measuring 16m in length, were unloaded at the foot of the hill after arriving here at 1am yesterday from Port Klang.

Penang Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said the coaches, with five compartments each, would be put on the tracks for a trial run once the RM63mil upgrading of the funicular system was completed in November.

Trains arrive on time: Engineers and workers unloading two new Swiss-made funicular coaches at the Penang Hill railway station Thursday. The air-conditioned coaches - able to carry 50 people each - can travel non-stop to the top station. The coaches were bought under the Tourism Ministry’s RM63mil upgrade programme. - K.T. GOH / The Star

“The modern coaches will still have the wooden benches, which shows that we are still keeping the heritage value intact,” he said when met at the foot of Penang Hill yesterday.

TRANSIT: Sounds to us like they just didn’t want to pay for the cost of cushions.

He added that the upgrading was originally scheduled for completion in September but had been delayed as the contractors needed more time to strengthen the tracks’ foundation and slopes.

On Feb 22, the 87-year-old funicular train service ceased operations to make way for the RM63mil upgrading project by the Tourism Ministry.

The new air-conditioned coaches, which can carry 50 people each, will travel non-stop between the foot of the hill and the top station under the upgraded system unlike the old system where passengers have to change trains at the middle station.

Swiss style: The new funicular coach at the Penang Hill station Thursday. Image courtesy of The Star

Lim said the commuting time of the new service would be less than 10 minutes per way compared to 30 minutes previously.

He said the new service would be able to carry 1,000 passengers per hour compared to 250 under the old system.

He said the coaches would be able to glide down at a slower speed to the lower station should there be any technical glitch or power supply disruption.

Lim said there would also be a sensor system to enable early detection of landslides or trees falling onto the rail tracks as well as a stand-by generator to provide power should there be electricity supply disruption.


We are interested to see how the new Penang Hill Railway will operate. Hopefully the tests will go well and the service will go back on line in October 2010 or sooner. For pictures of the old Penang Hill Railway, please see our posting

18 replies on “New Penang Hill Railway coaches arrive (Update #2)”

Has the new rail started operation at Penang Hill ? I will be travelling in late May and wonder if this is now operational ?

Hi Marcellus

At the last update, the trains were not operating but the Minister of Tourism has promised that the service will start operating in March.

Hopefully you will be able to experience the new Hill Railway in May when you arrive.

We will try to keep our posts on the Penang Hill Railway updated as soon as we get any news.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

Hope there is no further delay. I am trying to impress a friend from London to visit Penang and of course Penang Hill is the main attraction.

has the tram started operations yet…have come thrice in the past year but each time it has been delayed. any confirmation about its start date and the completion of renovations for penang airport?


The latest date for the tram operations to restart is March 19, as described here.

Tiered fare for Pg Hill train rides (The Star, 3 March 2011)

What is interesting is that the Tourism Minister says that the company requested the later date, while the company representative says that they did not request a later date.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT


We are travelling to penang next week. has the tram start the operation. We visited penang last year but it was still under construction. can the management please confirm. thanks.

Hi Putry

Unfortunately we have no news about the Penang Hill Railway except that it may start operating in the middle of April (APril 15-20th?).

The construction is finished and the railway is operating but not taking passengers commercially. According to some articles, residents of Penang Hill are using the railway.

Keep watching the news & TRANSIT website. If the railway opens, we will definitely mention it here.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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