Saturday, 21 August 2010

New coaches for Penang Hill funicular railway

So it has finally been unveiled: the new coaches for the Penang Hill funicular railway. Quite a modern design, I should think, but I shall miss the old ones. And especially, the old world charm of a 30-minute trip that would take hill visitors from the bottom station to the top and vice versa, and the change of coaches at the middle station. All these will be gone when the new coaches are put into commission once the RM63mil upgrading work on the funicular system is completed in November this year. Full story here.

Well and good that the new coaches will add to Penang's attractions but the government -- whether the Ministry of Tourism or the Penang government -- must also look into improving the facilities and attractions up on the hill. Right now, apart from the train ride and the breath-taking view of George Town, what else is there for the average tourist to see, do or feel? The new coaches may carry 1,000 people up or down in an hour (compared to 250 previously) but what do tourists do once they get up there? I think at the very least there should be a well-maintained tourist information centre as well as decent places for people to dine and stay. That food court alone is not good enough and that Bellevue Hotel has too few rooms to cater to overnighting tourists. Finally, will our government be daring enough to learn from the Hong Kong government and see what they did with their Victoria Peak? No need to follow their style but whatever works for Hong Kong should be studied and maybe, adapted to work here too.

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