Thursday, December 01, 2011

Penang Railway

The Penang Hill railway opened in 1923 and is a funicular railway on the island of Penang, Malaysia. It closed for renovations in 2010 and reopened a bit more than twelve months later, with a very different system, including new aircon, and I must say rather characterless, trains made in Switzerland.

In the old train, you were quite aware of the temperature drop as you rose into the Penang Hill, about five degrees C, from below in George Town.

Our friend who sent the pictured brochure, remarked that the trip is now incredibly quick compared to the old train. I expect you can't hang out the window anymore and take in the smells and sounds of the jungle. It is still a funicular train though, being one going up is connected to one going down, both assisting each other.

For your pleasure and education, I have found mercifully short You Tube clips to show you both the old and new trains.

The new one looks terribly sleek.

This one is of the older train, so of course the video must be a bit longer as the train is slower. You can see a train passing, the train controls, meaningless as they are, the driver exercising his hands and the George Town skyline as the train nears the bottom.

And what is to see on Penang Hill? Quite a lot really. A few of the attractions are featured in this video without very much of the train. You can also look at the website too.


  1. Well, I only got as far as the beautiful peacock but this is very interesting Andrew. However, my internet connection never works well for videos. I might as well be on a dial-up.
    I have never given a second thought to Malaysia and never heard of Penang Hill before. It seems to be a very beautiful place.

  2. Ahhh, lovely, what a shame the trains have to become bland, homogenised bits of metal, lovely trip all the same just too quick to really appreciate the surrounds.

  3. I think I'd use the new funicular up and down just to get a nice cool airconditioned break from the heat and humidity which I found very draining when I holidayed there years ago.

  4. I'd heard of it Rubye, but I knew nothing about it.

    Jayne, you would think for tourists they would have a train with a bit of character.

    I am sure it is very humid Victor. Cooler up on the hill though. While I hate humidity, I seem to cope with in when I am on holidays.