Our train network. A magnificent legacy (though of course the trains were used back then largely to transport commodities to feed the Empire). But for almost a generation since the mid-1980s, while the government focused on the “national car” (which bled red ink) and tolled highway (cashcows), our trains and supporting infrastructure were neglected.
It is only in recent years, with the introduction of the electric train service (ETS) and Komuter trains, that travelling by train has enjoyed a resurgence. But the popularity of these services is constrained by insufficient ETS trains and even an infrequent Komuter train service.
According to someone familiar with the train network, some of the Komuter stations in the northern region are not capable of accepting any train longer than six cars, and this has hindered the possibility of a quick expansion of service.
Imagine how many cars they could have taken off the roads if we had focused on our trains during that lost generation. Imagine if trains from Kuala Lumpur could branch out and continue across the channel to a terminal on Penang Island, where passengers could interchange with trams and buses.
P.S. Notice how in the video above, Michael Portillo says the new Penang funicular train is so fast – reaching the summit in about five minutes – it is like “something out of a fun fair”.