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Full Steam Ahead

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Here comes the Vulcan, again!

Staffs of the resort and the Sabah State Railway Department during the recent launch of the train’s first journey again.

Tourists will be taken back in time when the Vulcan used to ply the tracks.

The impressive interior after the spruce-up.

Tiffin-styled meals, anyone?

The British Vulcan Steam Engine in all its glory.

Return of the Vulcan

Since the late 1880s, the railway tracks through Borneo were ‘home’ to the British Vulcan Steam Engine belonging to the North Borneo Railway company.

The steam locomotive, the last of a fleet of locomotives that once plied the tracks was manufactured by the Vulcan Foundry Ltd in Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire, United Kingdom.

It was in 1954 that the Vulcan Foundry received the final order from the North Borneo Railway for three locomotives that resulted in a neat 2-6-2 tender locomotive of 58’-0” length, weighing 85 tons.

On July 4 this year, the British ‘Vulcan’ Steam Engine made its first run again after years of ‘silence’. It is now managed by Sutera Harbour Resort as the North Borneo Railway is a joint-project between the resort and the Sabah State Railway Department.

Its aim is to enhance the existing infrastructure and to promote Sabah as a tourist destination. Sutera Harbour Resort is a tourism development project spread over 384 acres of prime sea-front land. It is designed as a world class retreat offering harmonious living within nature’s paradise.

The North Borneo Railway was officially launched on Jan 22, 2000 in honor of Kota Kinabalu achieving city status on Feb 2, 2000 and it was temporarily closed due to the reconstruction of the track by the Sabah State Railway Department.

The train has a capacity for 80 passengers accommodated in its five colonial-period carriages. Each carriage has the capacity of 16 passengers and is named after each town along the journey – Papar, Kinarut, Tanjung Aru, Putatan and Kawang.

For special charter services, the passenger load may be increased up to 160 passengers.

All the carriages are non-air conditioned and are fitted with fans and washrooms. A kitchen car serves tiffin-styled meals, which highlight an exotic blend of colonial and continental cuisine, on the return journey from Papar to Tanjung Aru. 

The actual journey begins from the Tanjung Aru Station at 10am and passengers will be served a Continental breakfast as soon as the train leaves the station. Throughout the journey, passengers will be able to take in the sights and sounds of the countryside, paddy fields, mangrove jungles and pristine coastal beaches as the train chugs along the tracks.  Along the journey, the train will make a 20-minute stop at Kinarut and a 30-minute stop at Papar. Passengers may disembark at these two stops to explore the many interesting facets of the townships, which include a Chinese temple and the Papar ‘Tamu’, an open market where one can experience the kaleidoscopic culture and distinctive customs of the people of Papar.

The fare is inclusive of Continental breakfast and the tiffin-styled lunch.  For guests of the resort, the fare is also inclusive of complimentary transfer from the Resort to Tanjung Aru Station. 

Throughout the entire three-hour train ride, passengers can be assured of hospitality and five-star service that is synonymous with Sutera Harbour Resort. Also available on sale is a unique collection of memorabilia and replicas of the locomotive for passengers to remember their journey onboard the steam locomotive.

Visitors to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia is promised a nostalgic journey on this vintage steam locomotive, one of the few functional locomotives left in the world that is fueled by wood, in beautifully-restored, historic green carriages.  This classic train is operated to the highest of international standards and is fully compliant with modern safety standards.

The steam train is scheduled to run every Wednesday and Saturday and is priced at RM250 nett for adults, RM150 nett for children between the ages of two to 12 and complimentary for children below two years old. The rates are valid till Dec 31, 2011.

Be the first to take a nostalgic trip into the bygone days of the British North Borneo Charter Company.