GEORGE TOWN, Feb 15 — The Upper Station on Penang Hill is earmarked for an upgrade soon to make it accessible to all visitors, including those who are wheelchair-bound and senior citizens.
Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said a detailed design is being finalised for the upgrading works.
“We are now conducting preparatory works and hope to hold the groundbreaking ceremony by the middle of this year,” he told Malay Mail in a recent interview.
The project, under Phase 4 of overall infrastructure upgrading works in Penang Hill, will see the upper station being renovated into a comfortable waiting area.
The upgrade, which will adhere to Green Building Index (GBI) requirements, will be fitted with a lift for wheelchair-users and escalators for senior citizens.
Cheok said the upgrade will include constructing a second floor at the station.
This is to allow passengers access to a scenic view from a higher point at the station while waiting to board the funicular train.
“We will be introducing a numbered waiting system so that passengers will know when they will be boarding the train instead of queuing at the station,” he said.
With the numbered waiting system, passengers can better plan their time and enjoy the view from the second-storey of the station while waiting for their number.
Cheok said there will be more seats for people to rest as they wait and there will also be a kiosk selling drinks.
“I noticed some senior citizens prefer to sit near the station to wait for their family members instead of walking around the hilltop so this will provide another place for them to wait while enjoying the view,” he said.
There will also be a rooftop garden to complete the whole design of the station to blend in with nature and the heritage nature of the hill resort.
The project, which will take about two years to complete, will include strengthening and landscaping of the slopes around it.
“We are looking at a world-class innovative design for the station so that visitors can have a comfortable place to wait for the train and enjoy the scenery at the same time,” he said.
The upper floor of the station will also connect to the sky terrace at David Brown’s, making it accessible to those who are unable to climb the steps up to the terrace.
An old bungalow, known as the Railway Bungalow, about 100m below the station is also slotted to be refurbished and converted into a cafe overlooking the city.
Cheok said they are now undertaking slope stabilisation works but hope to start refurbishment works on the building soon.
“We have already called a request for proposal for Railway Bungalow and have awarded the project to an operator,” he said.
He added that the bungalow will house a cafe and a restaurant as an option for visitors to sit and rest before they leave the hill.
The cafe and restaurant is slotted to open by the second half of this year.