Penang Hill Railway from Lower Station (Air Itam) to Upper Station (Penang Hill) by Funicular Railway

Penang Hill Railway Train from Lower Station to Upper Station

The Penang Hill Railway is a funicular railway climbing up Penang Hill from Air Itam, and is the main transport link for visitors heading up to Penang Hill. The journey begins from the Lower Station, which is connected to the city by Rapid Penang Bus Service 204.

When I was researching before my trip, the Penang Hill website says that the Penang Hill Railway operates at a 60 minute frequency on the hour, but that changed to 30 minutes during my visit. In reality, the Penang Hill Railway was already operating at pre-COVID levels with immediate alighting, boarding, and departure.

Lower Station

The journey starts at the Lower Station at Air Itam.

A minimum of a completed primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is required for using the Penang Hill Railway. Users must also have a Low Risk status on MySejahtera. In reality, there were no checks made before entering the station.

Heading into the Lower Station to buy my ticket.

The fare chart for the Penang Hill Railway. Foreigners pay a lot more than Malaysians, at RM30 per adult, and RM80 for the express lane.

Entering the queue to purchase my ticket. There is no differentiation here between the express lane and normal lane here.

The original façade of the Lower Station, now functioning as the boarding area.

Fares are also displayed at the ticket counter.

Boarding is called by batch numbers. However, this was instant as the batch number given to me was the one called for immediate entry.

My ticket for the Penang Hill Railway as a foreign adult.

Following the signs to the train.

Entry to the queue starts with a souvenir photo being taken, but I skipped this as I wasn’t going to buy it anyway.

With not much crowd yet, the queue was also not differentiated between the express and normal lanes yet.

With a big crowd though, this new extended queuing area now has information panels which waiting visitors can have a read about.

Heading through the turnstiles with a scan of the barcode on my ticket.

TGhe screen shows a green arrow for a valid entry.

Express and normal lane passengers are filtered here by the staff on hand.

The queue situation for the normal lane on a weekday morning. From this point, I would be boarding the third train to depart.

Getting closer to the main boarding door for normal lane passengers. Express lane passengers have another door behind this wall.

The map of Penang Hill is displayed on the wall at the queuing area.

The boarding stopped just as I got close to the train, which is great as I now have more chance to board the front cabin.

The Mutiara train, also known as Carrier 2, departing from Lower Station.

The Lower Station utilises the Spanish Solution for platforms where passengers board on 1 side and alight from the other.

The Pinang train, also known as Carrier 1, departing from Lower Station.

Express lane passengers are allowed to enter the platform first. If you must need a guaranteed seat or front view, you require the express lane ticket.

Surprisingly, not everyone rushed to the front cabin when the boarding gates opened for normal lane passengers.

I headed to the front cabin for a good front view on the Penang Hill Railway ride to the Upper Station.

The interior of the Penang Hill Railway funicular train. As the train is angled steeply, individual cabins are divided in different levels so passengers can remain more or less standing or sitting straight throughout the journey.

There is a baggage wagon in front of the train on the elevated end for big luggage.

The builder plate of the Penang Hill Railway funicular train. The 3rd Generation trains are manufactured by Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group and CWA Constructions, and is classified as Funicular “100-FUL Penang Hill” by them.

Departing from Lower Station.

Heading up through some slight cuttings of Penang Hill.

Passing by what I think is a maintenance shed for the Penang Hill Railway.

Passing by a platform at Thien Kong Than Temple which is fenced up.

The first part of the uphill journey is a straight route which was the lower section for the previous split Penang Hill Railway service. The lines were split due to the gradient differences, but the current Penang Hill Railway runs direct between the Lower Station and Upper Station.

Passing through the former Abt Passing Loop on the lower section.

Speeding through hill cuttings.

Approaching the Middle Station. The former split lower section leads straight up where a 2nd Generation train is preserved, but the current direct alignment curves left here to join the former upper line alignment.

Middle Station

Entering Middle Station.

Passing through the platforms at Middle Station.

Approaching the current Abt Passing Loop.

Carrier 1 Pinang runs on the left side of the Abt Passing Loop, taking the direction of looking upwards.

Passing by Carrier 2 Mutiara on the Abt Passing Loop.

Slowing down after passing through the Abt Passing Loop.

My Carrier 1 Pinang train made a stop here as Carrier 2 Mutiara on the other end of the ropeway has stopped at Middle Station. As the stations along the line are not built equidistant apart from the Abt Passing Loop, the opposing train stops in the middle of nowhere whenever a stop is requested.

The operating panel reflects Carrier 2 Mutiara stopping at Middle Station, labelled as Station 1.

Continuing on the uphill journey after Carrier 2 Mutiara has departed from Middle Station.

Claremont Station

Passing through Claremont Station.

Passing through the former Abt Passing Loop on the upper section with a preserved 2nd Generation train on the disused side.

Viaduct Station

Slowing down on approach to Viaduct Station.

It’s my turn to experience stopping at an intermediate station with passengers boarding my Carrier 1 Pinang train here.

When requiring the use of any intermediate station, you can only use the uppermost cabin where the controller is. Only 1 door will open at intermediate stations.

The operating panel reflects Carrier 1 Pinang stopping at Viaduct Station, labelled as Station 4. This is interesting as I don’t recall passing by Moniot Station which is provided a stopping position of Station 3 as seen on the operating panel.

There is a Penang Hill Railway staff at Viaduct Station doing something with a panel at the platform. Perhaps this is how trains are called at intermediate stations.

Continuing on the journey up.

Lower Tunnel Station

Passing by Lower Tunnel Station.

Heading through the tunnel after Lower Tunnel Station which is the steepest tunnel track in the world.

Upper Tunnel Station

Passing through Upper Tunnel Station.

Approaching Upper Station where everyone will be alighting for Penang Hill.

Upper Station

Entering Upper Station.

Upper Station currently only operates with 1 platform. Passengers alight and clear the platform before new passengers board.

The drive mechanism is just up ahead.

Alighting from the Carrier 1 Pinang with a full load of passengers.

This seems to be a temporary shared alighting and boarding area here at Upper Station, with a long walk via the sheltered bridge.

The path leads out to Cliff Café or Astaka Bukit Bendera, a 3-storey food and beverage centre.

The end of the walkway is near.

The façade of the entrance of the Penang Hill Upper Station.

The temporary ticket counter is in front of Cliff Café or Astaka Bukit Bendera.

There is another map of Penang Hill here.

A hardcopy map can also be obtained from the Information Centre.

I arrived just in time for the 11.30am free guided walk, but there was a minimum of 5 persons for the walk to start. As I was the only person who showed up, the walk did not proceed.

Signs are on hand to point you to the direction of attractions around Penang Hill. I followed the signs towards Penang Hill Gallery @ Edgecliff which was the main point of my trip up to Penang Hill.


It certainly felt very normal at Penang Hill Railway (with the exception of mask wearing) with a queue of local and foreign passengers waiting to board the next few trains. Contrary to what Penang Hill is advertising, trains are running at maximum capacity, doing immediate turnarounds once trains arrive at the ends of the line. My cabin was packed to the brim, but I could lean on the operation console panel while taking pictures. It’s not an overly comfortable journey on the Penang Hill Railway, but it’s great to see tourism flourishing once again on Penang Hill.

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