Going Down on the Funicular Train, Penang Hill
Our driver pressed a few buttons on his display panel and we began our rapid descent on the funicular train soon leaving the Upper Station behind.
From Lower to Upper Station the funicular track stretches a distance of 1,996 metres which is the longest in Asia.
The tunnel is 79 metres in length, 3 metres wide and at 27.9 degrees – the steepest tunnel track in the world.
The interior of our car (4th generation 24th of April 2011 – ) and a third generation train permanently frozen in time on a disused track (1977 – 2010). The 1st generation was around in 1906, the 2nd generation October 1923-1977.
Wiki says: The Penang Hill Railway was initially constructed for the British colonial community to enjoy the cooler air of the Penang Hill. The first attempt at a mountain railway on Penang Hill began with a proposal by three British residents, D. Logan, Joseph Heim and Alan Wilson and the formation of a private company in 1897, with funding from the colonial administration. The first attempt used the steam engine and was not funicular, and it proved to be a failure. The line was constructed between 1901 and 1905, but did not work due to technical faults.
The Straits government then organized a new project in 1909. The Penang Hills Funicular Railway was designed by Arnold R Johnson, an engineer with the Federated Malay States Railways, based on a Swiss design. Construction of the second railway cost 1.5 million Straits dollars, and the 2,007m long funicular railway was informally opened on October 21, 1923 and it commenced operation. After a successful trial period, on 1 January 1924, the railway was officially opened by the then Governor of Straits Settlement, Sir L.N. Guillemard. In its first year of operation it carried 35,201 passengers and made 4,021 trips. The Penang Municipality, George Town managed and maintained the railway from its opening until February 1, 1977, when it was taken over by the Penang state Government.
Until 2010, the Penang Hills Funicular Railway had two independent sections due to the difference in gradient between the lower and upper section, and passengers were required to change train in the middle station. The upper and lower sections each had two counterbalanced 40-passenger cars, and each section had a passing loop in the middle and intermediate stops. The cars were pulled by steel cable electrically driven with 500 volts power. The railway has a tunnel which measures 258 feet long and is the steepest tunnel in the world. It took 30 minutes to go up the hill on the funicular service with a change of train in the middle station.
There was an upgrade of the service in 1977 and a complete overhaul in 2010.
Down we went.
The passing place.
We passed through Stesen Tengah (Middle Station) at a height of 349.4 metres. Another old train tucked away in history.
Amazing how many twists and turns we went through.
A quick look out of the side window to see the view and how far we had descended.
The last straight.
The final slight curve and the ten minute ride had come to an end. Out we got and went in search of the Hop On Hop Off Bus.
ALL IN ALL A WONDERFUL JOURNEY