To the summit, anyone?

loading The air-conditioned Swiss-made funicular train, which is capable of ferrying up to 100 passengers at a time.

If you are planning a trip up Penang Hill, chances are the funicular train will be your preferred mode of transport to the summit. Yet how often do we ever stop to ponder about what makes such a trip possible in the first place? Penang Monthly explores the engineering behind the Penang Hill Funicular Train and its evolution.

Long, long ago, leisurely trips up Penang Hill were reserved for privileged people escorted upon sedan chairs. Each such chair was borne on the shoulders of four sturdy porters, probably hired coolies who sometimes took up to six hours to reach what we still know as Summit Station at the very top of the Hill. Fortunately for the rest of us, a new era was ushered in with the first Penang Hill funicular train. This allowed generations to come an easy way to experience the Hill's natural beauty and panoramic sceneries.

The inauguration of the funicular train on New Year’s Day 1924 by Sir Lawrence Guillermard, the then Governor of the Straits Settlements, marked a democratisation of the Hill. A fully restored exhibit of this train can be seen at the top of the Hill outside the food court.

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