North Borneo Railway, Sabah was completed in the 1800s and acted as the only reliable mode of transport to Sabah's interiors till the revival of World War 2. The railway is a delightful reminder of the colonial era.
North Borneo Railway, Sabah began its journey from the Tanjung Aru station and chugged past the market towns of Kinarut and Papar, on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu. The train meandered past beautiful natural sights such as the backyards of small settlements, villages, Chinese temples and churches, mangrove swamps, a tunnel, as well as padi fields and oil plantations. The train is powered by an old steam engine that pulls five dining carriages and gives visitors a wonderful into a bygone era. A variety of tiffin style lunch lunch of assorted savory pastries, fried chicken, sandwiches and dim sum along with lemonade is served to the passengers. While you travel past country side towns and villages, enjoying the great views, you will find children and adults wave at passengers.
The train stops at Papar, known as the rice bowl of Sabah for 20 to 30 minutes and allows passengers to disembark and walk around the small town's tamu (market) which sells all sorts of jungle and farm produce. The original route when established by the British ran from Tanjung Aru to Beaufort and the line passed through Kinarut and Papar. The train was also used carrying daily necessities and other products such as rubber sheets, timber, coffee and jungle products to be traded locally or exported to England and elsewhere.
After the British packed up and left Malaysia the fate of the railway suffered and the steam engines were left to rot at the railway yard. It was during this time that Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa came up with the idea to revive the train service in order to preserve part of the State's heritage. The steam engine was back on track after three years. The train now belongs to the Sabah Railway Department and the resort has the license to sell tours on the train. The trips are very popular among the tourists as they can relate to North Borneo.
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