I ran into a visitor who had taken a ride on the ‘upgraded’ Penang Hill railway and he made the following observations:

  • The train appears designed for colder climates or built for a Swiss environment.
  • The air-conditioning system is cold. “It is like an ice cage.” It is also somewhat noisy and the windows can get fogged up.
  • In case the air-conditioning system fails, ventilation could be a problem. The ventilation openings in the carriage roof-top appear to be too small for the number of passengers the coach is capable of carrying.
  • The cables pulling the carriage up could become unstable if the frequency of trains is increased to less than 15 minutes service interval.
  • The track work appears unsatisfactory because of poor workmanship.
  • The cable pulley inserts are unsuitable for the Penang climate.
  • If a train breaks down in the tunnel, there is no room at the sides to evacuate passengers. Even if it breaks down in the open, evacuation could be difficult.
  • The contacts for power to the train should be vertical not horizontal. The weight of the train is too great on them.
  • The trains going up and down are not synchronised at the ‘loop’ where they pass by each other in opposite directions.