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Penang Hill Funicular Train Service Might Shut Down Due To Frequent Malfunctions
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Penang Hill Funicular Train Service Might Shut Down Due To Frequent Malfunctions

Visitors were left stranded on the hill for nearly two hours after the train broke down recently.

Adeline Leong

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The Penang Hill funicular train has been operating nearly non-stop for several days during the long holiday weekend and due to the high traffic, the wear and tear from the past year are starting to show.

The train service experienced a breakdown on 15 October and left about 180 visitors stranded for nearly two hours.

According to NST, the wear and tear of the on-track brakes were believed to be the cause of the breakdown.

Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng explained that the safety mechanism to lock the track brakes kicks in when it detects a potential fault.

The train service was stopped on Sunday (7 November) at 1.50pm on Sunday for maintenance work which went on until Monday morning at 10am.

However, the train service was disrupted again on Monday morning at 10am despite the maintenance work that was done.

The train service might be shut down

According to The Star, Penang is considering shutting down the funicular train service if it continues to experience frequent breakdowns.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow stressed that passenger safety was way more important than revenue.

I will leave it to the management team of the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) but if it needs to close down even during the peak season, stop the train service.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow

PHC also revealed that the train’s wire rope had begun to touch the haul rope drum underneath one of the train coaches.

Why is the train not fixed?

Based on a 2020 report by NST, the train is scheduled for two major maintenances every year under the supervision of engineers from the funicular manufacturer, Garaventa AG from Switzerland.

PHC also regularly conduct checks and maintenance on top of daily routine inspections after operation hours.

Major maintenance isn’t feasible this time around because the Swiss engineers could not travel to Malaysia during the pandemic and lockdowns.

PHC general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said the alternative solution is to get the necessary parts to fix since they do have local engineers who can carry out the engineering work.

Alternative routes to go uphill

Even if the funicular train service is shut down, visitors can still enjoy the beautiful views from Penang Hill.

Visitors have the option to get the privately-operated jeep service from Botanical Gardens or hike up to the summit of Penang Hill themselves.

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