Service of the Funicular train on the upper stretch of Penang Hill was stopped since 25 June 2008 due to protrusion of various wires from the cable. Protrusion of -wires was seen since 2008 and minor repairs were carried out by it was on 25 June 2008 that the cable supplier had advised total stop to the service and replacement of a new cable is necessary when more and more wires protruded.
The State Government has to find its own resources to replace the cable as the Federal Government was not funding the cost of this repair on the basis that upgrading work of RM40million has been approved. The State Government had hoped that the upgrading work by the Federal Government can be done quickly but when there was no indication of any progress, the state government had no choice but to repair at its own cost.
The absence of funding from the Federal Government and the various bureaucratic protocols impeded the earlier commencement of the train service. Turnkey quotations of RM1.463 million, RM1.32 million and RM920,000 were received for evaluation which would require 6 month to install.
However, through consultation with and assistance from the representatives of Penang Hill residents, NGOs, -volunteers and professionals, the State Government reviewed carefully the replacement proposals and awarded the contract to a local contractor at a quotation of less than RM700,000. What’s -more, the work was done in 2 months instead of 6 months as quoted by the previous 3 contractors.
This resulted in a huge savings of RM760,000 from the 1st quotation received by the State Government as well as time.
The replacement cable was purchased from Singapore but the wire was made in Germany and passed the SIRIM Test.
Penang Hill and its funicular train has always been the pride of the Pearl of the Orient – i.e. Penang and are well known throughout the world. The commencement of the funicular train would bring back the good old days of Penang Hill and allow tourist to enjoy not only the scenic beauty of Penang Hill but also appreciate the reason why the entire island of Penang is called the “Pearl of the Orient.”