Penang Hill train will be ready end of the year

The new Penang Hill funicular train will handed over to be managed by the Penang state government once it is ready by end of the year.

Minister of Tourism Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the RM68.8mil Tourism Ministry project to upgrade the train service is due for completion end of the year.

“Upon the completion of the project, we will hand over the project to the state government through a  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),” she told reporters after a soft-launch ceremony to unveil the service’s new Swiss-made coaches here today.

“It should be a self-sustainable project once it is completed and we hope that the state government will be able to take full responsibility on all the post project maintenance, services and financing,” she added.

On Feb 22, the 87-year-old funicular train service ceased operations to make way for the the 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 station at the summit of Penang Hill under the upgraded system, unlike the old system where passengers had to change trains at a middle station.

Meanwhile, Ng also urged the state government to be more active and work closely with the federal government in developing the tourism sector following the state’s tourist arrivals for last year lagging behind Malacca.

She said the state had great potential to become one of the top tourist destinations as there were about 191 international flights weekly.

“The state government should not rely too much on the federal govenment to provide more allocations to the state as RM143.4 million was allocated under Ninth Malaysia Plan.

She added that Penang only recorded a total of 5.5 million tourist arrivals in 2009 compared with Malacca which had 8.9 million.