Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that Penang may consider to shut down the Penang Hill funicular train service if it continues to breakdown, adding that passenger safety is 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.” said Chow, who is also the PHC chairman.
Meanwhile, it is noted that 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.
On 15 October, the train service experienced a breakdown and left about 180 visitors stranded for about 2 hours.
NST reported that the wear and tear of the on-track brakes are believed to be the cause of the breakdown.
Meanwhile, PHC general manager, Datuk Cheok Lay Leng explained that the safety mechanism would immediately lock the track brakes if it detects a potential fault.
Despite undergoing maintenance work, the train service was stopped again on Sunday (7 November) at 1.50 p.m. for maintenance work, which went on until Monday (8 November) morning at 10 a.m.
Chow also said that a major maintenance was not feasible now as the Swiss engineers could not travel to Malaysia due to the pandemic.
“It is engineering work and we have the expertise to get the work done as it is very unlikely we will get a team from Switzerland during the December holidays.” he said.
However, even if the funicular train service is being shut down, visitors can still enjoy the beautiful views from the Penang Hill.
The alternative for visitors to get to the summit of Penang Hill are to hire privately-operated jeep service from Botanical Gardens or hike up yourselves.
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