Revive the tramways, maybe even the trolleys buses!

Won’t that be a great idea? Is that the reason for all the digging in Penang Road. Or any spanish galleon, platinum found was discovered? Most motorist passing simply have no idea what this is about.

Digging in Penang Road

Several days now as I drove passed Penang Road, the massive traffic jams caused me to investigate what is up in Penang this time.

Someone did comment what is going to happen to the tramways along the route they were digging. Or could be plans to revive the tramways?

So many questions, opinions are on our mind. Then I read about the talk to revive the Tramways that was built back in the 1880’s. The author Ric Francis or Lion Reg, an Australian was here at the invitation of Penang Heritage Trust.

In his power point presentation, he shared some aspects on reviving the tramways .

Routes for tramways

The tramways has to be built in stages and 4 stages were proposed. The first stage could use the 50 m of old tram lines unearthed recently in 2004.

The Presentation

Firstly, I enjoyed some slides on other progressing countries like Paris and Toronto introducing trams or trains back in this modern age. China made trains were shown to us which could be use as we are on friendly terms with China.

Environment Friendly

Lion Reg pointed out how we could actually conserve our fuel and helps to reduce pollution. It seems one tram could keep 55 cars off the road, he says.

the grout and rail lines of electrical trams

Some positive advantages were shared like how it would complement the new public bus service, RapidPenang. And in the next few years how with the introduction of monorail, Penang would really offer its locals and tourist various ways to travel.

The New Trams
The power of the trams is centrally generated and conveyed to the vehicles via overhead wires and the metal rails. The electricity used is DC-which gives smooth operations.

Then I remembered if trams have to run, the wires hanging above us would be so unsightly as our age old colonial and straits buildings need to be conserved too. It was pointed out the the wiring system and pipes used to run the rail will not block or caused more hindrance to our present views.Maintenance and operation is extremely low as the designs showed they are light weight. It is thus profitable for the operators, so we hope the fares are affordable for the older groups of people.

With new technology, the tram are people friendly especially the physically challenged will have opportunities to use these facilities. From the designs I saw and imagined, it can passed through small and narrow streets.

And the trishaws will still have business to do, ferrying the visitors to heritage sites.

mmm, I thought to myself I have to be patient as allow all this facilities to start building, bear with the inconveniences for the next few years and hoo ray…a modern Penang.

Ric Francis

Moreover, trams that blend with the old-world architecture of George Town will surely enhance the heritage value of the inner city, which has the largest collection of pre-war shophouses in South-East Asia.

Some history facts
1880 A light railway operated from Georgetown to the Botanic Gardens.

1925 Trolley buses first operated a tramway in Penang.

1959 Last trolley bus service in Penang

Lion Reg, also an Australian tram engineer, was commissioned by the state government to conduct a study on the proposal.

Of course, Ric will go back to Oz to prepare his report based on three quotations on cost, materials and hopefully he will submit it by 2 weeks.

Penang’s first recorded tram system was run on steam between the jetty at Weld Quay and Air Itam with a branch to the Penang Botanic Gardens in the 1880s.

Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways

Lion Reg’s book is available at RM50.00 each.

Penang Heritage Trust at 26, Church Street.

Call the Penang Heritage Trust 04-2642631.

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