Initial news reports for the Penang Hill Railway ‘upgrade’ had mentioned an allocation of RM40m. But later news reports put the cost at RM63m and finally RM73m.
According to an NST report, former PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had agreed to Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s appeal for RM40 million. (The component had initially been removed from the list of Ninth Malaysia Plan projects during its mid-term review of the 9MP.) The reinstatement of the allocation was welcomed by the Penang state government.
The project was tendered out by the Public Works Department and fell under the Tourism Ministry.
The contractor, Alam Langkawi Sdn Bhd, based in Penang, was tasked with designing and building the electrical control system as well as the haulage rope replacement and reinstatement on the hill railway.
The local track work was undertaken by Alam Langkawi’s local subcontractor.
The main supplier is a firm called Garaventa of Switzerland, which works in association with Alam Langkawi. Garavanta’s sub-contractors were Sisag (electronics), CWA (carriage) and Wampfler (power supply).
An alternative smaller-scale and less fancy plan put forward by ‘friends of Penang Hill’ – which would have cost just RM20m – was ignored or rejected.