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.
“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.
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.
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.