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Taiping Railway Line

Railway transportation systems generally has lower frictional resistance when compared with highway vehicles, the carriages and wagons can be coupled into longer trains. With such inherent advantage, it is the most efficient land transport especially for bulk cargo like tin ore coal. It was rapidly developed and widely used in various sectors especially after the invention of steam engine in 18 century.

Modern rail transport systems first appeared in England in the 1820s. These systems, which made use of the steam locomotive, were the first practical forms of mechanized land transport, and they remained the primary form of mechanized land transport for the next 100 years.

Electrified railway was introduced at the end of 19th century, but only limited to large cities, such as Sweden, London, Paris and New York and it was used as rapid transit for urban commuting only. In smaller cities, tramways were generally the only mode of public transport.

Because Steam locomotives were rather labour intensive. After World War II, dramatically increased labour costs in developed countries made steam an increasingly costly. Meanwhile, the war had forced improvements in internal combustion engine technology that made diesel locomotives cheaper and more powerful. Many Steam locomotives were replaced by Diesel engine.

But, following the large-scale construction of motorways after World War II, rail transport became less popular for commuting. Meanwhile, air transport started dominating the long-haul for passengers.

In 1964, Japan introduces the first High Speed Rail – Shinkansen, also known as Bullet-train which linking Tokyo to Nagoya and Osaka, to welcome Tokyo Summer Olympics, then again rail transport regain market share for intercity travel in Japan. Also, introduction of Light Rail was then rapidly taking place in many large cities, to replace or even reopen many of the abandoned old tramways system.

The first railway line in Peninsular Malaysia

  • The first railway line in Malaysia was opened on 1 June 1885, which ran between Kuala Sepetang (Port Weld) and Taiping – the heart of the tin-rich Larut in Perak. Only 13km in length, was because of the need to transport tin from the mines to the coastal port.
  • The second line was opened a year later in 1886, to link another tin-mining centre – Kuala Lumpur and Port Klang (Port Swettenham).
  • Then, opening of the line between Seremban and Port Dickson in 1891. And, Teluk Intan (Teluk Anson) to Tapah Road line opened in 1893.

Following Federated Malay States Railway merging the initial 4 lines in 1896, railway Bridge across Perak River in Perak was constructed in 1900. Then the West Coast Line between Prai in Penang and Johor Baru was completed in 1909. East Coast Line between Tumpat in Kelantan and Gemas in Negeri Sembilan was completed in 1931.
Until approaching 21st century, Malaysia railway system hardly had any developments. And the operations was mainly for inter-city freight transport.

The first electrified commuter trains were introduced in 1995 to facilitate passengers between Kuala Lumpur and Rawang, and Kuala Lumpur to Seremban.

And the first high-speed train – KLIA Ekspres (ERL), was launched in 2002, which provides Express Train services between KL Sentral transit Hub and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA & KLIA2) in Sepang.

The Oldest Railway Station

Ironically, the railway station which links the first railway in the Malaysia was once announced to be demolished to give way to the construction of Ipoh – Padang Besar project. Which is a continuation of Rawang – Ipoh double-tracking electrified railway system (ETS) project. The Rawang – Ipoh project already completed and in operations since 2008.

Taiping railway station – the oldest railway station in the Malaysia – being a heritage building in town, also part of Taiping History, should be retained as heritage site and served as tourist attractions.

old taiping railway station

The authentic Taiping railway station opened in 1885 was situated at the location where the SMK King Edward VII primary school located. The second old station, as shown in the picture above, which replaced the original station was relocated to the existing Jalan Stesen site estimated to be between the end of 19 century and early 20 century.

The existing Taiping railway station in service is the 3rd building constructed in-line with the Padang Besar – Gemas Electrified and Double-Tracking Train Service started in 2015.

Thai – Myanmar Link Railway

The name is directly translated from Japanese word “Tai-men Rensetsu Tetsudo”, commonly known as “The Death Railway” which was built by Prisoners of war, started in June 1942, completed and opened in October 1943 to supply troops and weapons in Burma during the 2nd World War. Much of the construction materials, such as tracks and sleepers, were sourced from the Federated Malay States Railway network and the East Indies’ various rail networks dismantled branches.

The iconic bridge known as Kwai River Bridge near Thamkra Sae station today many can visit, was actually damaged due to British air strike during the war. It was then repaired by using angular truss spans provided by Japanese builders brought from Java in the Dutch East Indies.

Tourist usually travel to Thamkra Sae station and walk through the historical iconic bridge to Lumsum station. Or vis-versa. Is one of the popular heritage trails in Kanchanaburi today. Read more…

Kunming – Singapore Railway

also known as Pan-Asian Railway Network, consists of 3 routes, that is

  1. Central Route via Laos
  2. Eastern Route via Vietnam 
  3. Western Route via Myanmar

All the 3 routes connects Kunming to Bangkok, then Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. The Central Route was officially opened between Kunming and Vientiane on the 03-December-2021. 

Hankai Tramway 161 series rolling stock
in operation since 1910 in Osaka

The world’s 1st intercity railway link

Opened in 1830, the route between Liverpool and Manchester was the world’s 1st intercity railway link, still in use today.

Planet Locomotive
A replica of the Planet, which ran on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway from 1830

The first known electric locomotive was built in 1837 by chemist Robert Davidson of Aberdeen in Scotland, and it was powered by galvanic cells batteries.