Monday, September 26, 2016

CuriosTraveller: North Borneo Railway Part 1- About and History

No other experience on other train service is able to beat our experience being on board the North Borneo Railway. The experience will last forever in our thoughts. Yes, this is not the Eastern & Oriental service but this service is in North Borneo, Sabah Malaysia, it’s a ride on a classic train. Not the Shinkansen or bullet train as in Tokyo to all over Japan either but the return trip to Papar from Tanjung Aru station by North Railway Borneo took us to the ‘past’. It made us understand one big thing, the history. It made us ably to appreciate all the elements of a classic train by just being on a single ride! A ride of a lifetime that we strongly recommend to all of you, without any hesitation, not even a second!


We are truly grateful and shall be sharing all our experience so that you will be inspired and hop on the train service by North Borneo Railway soon! If you do, please do contact us and share your experience in this blog! We love guests post anyway! After all, sharing is caring. The ride is not about indulging in luxury, it is about ‘visiting the past’, enjoying that amazing views, making friends with the other passengers, capture all that beautiful landmarks (for photographers), moving at a slower pace as how the older generations did during the British era and perhaps waving hands to all the people outside (they are excited too!).


Credit: Sutera Harbour Resort & Sabah State Railway Department

North Borneo Railway is the oldest running steam train in Sabah and Borneo. The nostalgic romance of an old steam train relives memories of a bygone era. Passing through villages and coastal towns, paddy fields, rainforests and plantations of rubber and coffee, a ride on North Borneo Railway is truly a journey of rediscovery into the heart of Borneo.

The North Borneo Railway is a joint venture project between Sutera Harbour Resort and the Sabah State Railway Department (Jabatan Keretapi Negeri Sabah), signifying a historical collaboration between the private sector and the state government. The primary goals of the project are to enhance existing infrastructure as well as help in efforts to promote Sabah as a destination for domestic and international tourism. The North Borneo Railway was officially launched on 22nd January 2000 in honour of Kota Kinabalu achieving city status on 2nd February 2000.

The North Borneo Railway offers passengers an opportunity to experience the bygone era of British North Borneo while transporting passengers along the lifeline of Sabah. Refurbished to recreate the nostalgic romance of people travelling by steam train in the days of the Chartered Company and the British Colonial Office, both the exterior and interior provide an environment that would have been typical of stepping onto a train in the 1900s.

The exterior utilizes the traditional deep green and cream of the original North Borneo Railway, with carved brass logos showcasing the original design of a tiger holding a rail wheel, standing on the royal crown.

The interior highlights the natural woods of Sabah and unless the train is fully booked, passengers are offered free seating on one of the five colonial-style passenger train carriages.

The Vulcan’s Origin

Credit: The Engine Museum (United Kingdom) & Sutera Harbour Resort

The steam locomotive from the North Borneo Railway was manufactured by the Vulcan Foundry Ltd in Newton-le-willows in Lanchashire, United Kingdom. As quoted from the Engine Museum in the UK:

“Vulcan Foundry received its final order in 1954 from the North Borneo Railway for three locomotives-the result a neat 2-6-2 tender locomotive of 58'-0? length, weighing 85 tons.”

Not only do these steam engines represent the last of a fleet that have piled the tracks through Borneo since the late 1880’s, they are also part of the only few functional wood burners in the world.