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North Borneo Railway

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Confession time: we like trains. We have to admit we were a little bit excited to travel on the historical North Borneo Railway, but you don’t have to be a trainspotter kind of person to enjoy the romance of a steam train. The North Borneo Railway isn’t a regular train service, although a regular service does follow the same route, but rather a manufactured tourist attraction recreating the historical era of steam travel.

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Construction on the original line began in 1896 with the intention of opening up the interior of Borneo by the colonial administrators to pillage the rich natural resources. The 36 kilometre section from Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) to Papar, along which the train runs today, was built in the early 1900s. Once the area was stripped of forest (something sounds familiar here), tobacco, rice, sugar and sago crops were grown and transported along the line.

Tip: Get a seat in the front or rear carriage for the best pictures. Photo taken in or around North Borneo Railway, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Tip: Get a seat in the front or rear carriage for the best pictures. Photo: Sally Arnold

The official North Borneo Railway was established on 1 August 1914. World wars and the Depression paralysed the system intermittently, then finally in 1971 steam locomotives were replaced by modern diesel trains. In 2000, the steam engines were resurrected as a historic tourist ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 900 words.)


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