The International Steam Pages

Funiculi Funicula DVD

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Normally we are unable to supply our DVDs and Downloads between the middle of November and the middle of March.

(This does not apply in 2020-1 as we will be in the UK owing to the pandemic.)

If you are interested in ordering at that time please email the address below to check availability.

The Penang Hill Railway
The only full size
funicular in South-East Asia

Click here to view sample clips

Construction of the Penang Hill Railway started in 1920 and it was opened in 1923. Built in two sections, the railway runs for some 2km through tropical scenery with a maximum grade of some 50%, rising from just above sea level (34m) to a height of some 720m. It provides some spectacular views of the island's principal urban area, Georgetown, although the passengers are usually crammed in so tightly that they can't appreciate them except at Middle and Top stations!

It has always been powered by electricity and at the time of filming the original winders (and one other very old motor) were still in use. The original carriages were replaced in 1977 although one survives at the top of the railway and the others elsewhere. However, in February 2010 the railway closed for extensive rebuilding (into a single section funicular) and the scenes captured on this DVD will be gone for ever.  I know of no other proper publicly available video record of this fascinating railway, this was definitely 'just in time' industrial archaeology. In fact, as will be seen from the orange jacket and hard hat brigade, initial work was already beginning during filming although it in no way detracts from the final result.

I am very grateful for the total cooperation of all the people working on the railway. As a result, Funiculi Funiculafeatures (the pictures below are mainly conventional stills taken while filming):

  • A full ride up and down the whole railway - on board, from the hillside and close up from the lineside, including all the intermediate stations and viaducts and, of course, the tunnel:

  • A detailed look at the passing loop system

  • A visit to both winding houses courtesy of the management - for safety reasons these are not open to casual visitors.

For more information:

Our visit in October 2009 which inspired this film - Up Memory Lane

Wikipedia -

'Penang - Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways' by Francis & Ganley, published locally in 2006 by Areca Books, ISBN 983-42834-0-7, excellent value at MYR 50. See

We have prepared 2 sample clips which you can download or view on Youtube:

The material for this DVD was filmed by independent film producer Rob Dickinson during a week's stay in Penang in December 2009. It was recorded in DV-AVI format and the result is a 45 minutes broadcast quality film. Ric Francis (Australia) and Garth Johnson (UK) provided invaluable technical information on the building and operation of the railway to help make the commentary as accurate and informative as possible.

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See also:

Rob Dickinson