Breakdown causes chaos on hill trains

Breakdown causes chaos on hill trains

GEORGE TOWN - Chaos reigned at the popular tourist spot at Penang Hill when the funicular train carrying some 80 tourists and Malaysians broke down on Friday night.

Due to the poor ventilation in the two affected coaches, one of which was going uphill and the other downhill, some of the passengers started kicking and trying to break the glass window to get out.

A tourist from Malacca, Jalil Hassan, 44, said that it was total havoc in the train.

"The ventilation was poor and an Arab tourist attempted to break the glass panel to improve the air flow.

"We were only attended to by Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) staff after more than one hour of being stuck in the train.

"This is my first visit to the hill and I never expected such a harrowing experience," he said, while cradling his nine-month-old daughter Dhia.

Four passengers were rushed to the Penang General Hospital but were later discharged after receiving outpatient treatment.

Masrijohan Kamsudin, 31, said his wife Ismayati Ismail had breathing difficulties after spending nearly two hours in the train.

Paya Terubong Fire and Rescue Department chief Asst Supt Poh Leong Soon said his team rescued more than 50 passengers from both trains, one about 700m from the lower station and the other some 250m from the lower station.

At a press conference at the lower station yesterday, PHC general manager Dr Lawrence Khoo refuted claims that the passengers were stuck for more than an hour, claiming that it was only 10 minutes the most.

He said the power supply from the generator would have been switched on within 15 minutes if not for the passengers forcing the door open.

"This triggered the safety feature which blocks the electricity from being switched on.

"They also walked on the rail track, resulting in power supply failing to connect to the system.

"There were more than 80 passengers in the train.

"Our staff tried to calm them down but some panicked, and started kicking and trying to break the glass window," he said.

Management Service Division administration officer Muhammad Ashady Md Tamby said the company had already refunded more than 20 passengers.

The train service resumed yesterday.

It was the third time in 12 months that the train service had been disrupted.

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