Taking a ride through Malaysian Trains on the North Borneo Railway line from Tanjung Aru to Tenom is a breath taking experience.
Along the journey you can enjoy the beauty of Rice Bowl of Sabah, Papar, sprawling paddy fields, traditional village homes on stilts and buffaloes ambling in the distance.
Presently the North Borneo Railway is operated to the highest of international standards, fully compliant with modern safety standards and features five fully refurbished colonial-style passenger train carriages that can accommodate a total of 180 passengers.
History of MalaysianTrains in Sabah
Sabah State Railway (SSR) is the only rail transport system operating on the island of Borneo in the state of Sabah in Malaysia.
The history of the rail services in Sabah began with British North Borneo Chartered Company on 1896, known as North Borneo railway.
It was originally intended primarily for the transport of tobacco from the interior to the coast for export.
The first line built was a 32 km track from Bukau River, north to Beaufort, and south to the port of Weston. This was then extended with a further 48 km route in 1903 to Tenom, the works for which was completed in 1905. The line was extended again in 1906 with a further 16 km from Tenom to Melalap.
At the same time, work began on another line from Beaufort to Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu), which was completed in 1903.
With the completion of these works the network routes covered some 193 km. Trains used at that time were the Vulcan steam locomotives imported from Britain in 1896.
The network was almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War.
As part of the works undertaken during 2006 and 2007, new concrete sleepers were introduced for better train operation.
The entire Tanjung Aru-Tenom section reopened on 21 Feb 2011, and the trip now takes 2 hours and 15 minutes as the coaches can run at a speed of up to 80 km/h compared to 50 km/h previously.
There are total of 15 stations between Sembulan and Tenom, namely: Secretariat-Tanjung Aru-Putatan-Kinarut-Kawang-Papar-Kimanis-Bongawan-Membakut-Beaufort-Saliwangan Baru-Halogilat-Rayoh-Pangi-Tenom.
Current operations of Malaysian Trains in Sabah
The current operational railway is used for its entire length to carry both passengers and freight.
Passenger services are run using two-car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) sets from 1970. These have a single-class seating structure and are non-air-conditioned.
Freight trains are hauled by Hitachi or Kawasaki diesel locomotives, which were introduced in the early 1970s to replace earlier steam units.
Passenger services take 4 hours to complete the 134 km journey from Tanjung Aru to Tenom, allowing for stops on the way.
The Beaufort – Tenom stretch of track runs through the Padas River gorge and is regarded as incredibly scenic. In addition the railway itself is something of an attraction to some, and a historic North Borneo Railway tourist train is operated by Sutera Harbour Resort especially to capture this market.
The North Borneo Railway runs two weekly departures (Wednesday and Saturday) and a trip typically runs for 4 hours. An early booking of at least 1 (one) day before departure is required.
• Boarding Time: 9:30AM at Tanjung Aru Station
• Departure Time: 10AM every Wednesday & Saturday ONLY
• Check more details at Sabah Tourism
Title: Malaysian Trains in Sabah
Date of Issue: 28 December 2015
Denominations: 60sen, 70sen, 80sen, RM5.30
Source: Malaysia Stamps