Specialists

Sabah » Sabah Tours

SABAH TOURS

North Borneo Railway

Tour Code: KK16

Duration 5 hours

Brass logo on the carriage
Brass logo on the carriage

You will be picked up from your hotel around 09.00 hrs and transferred to the Tanjung Aru Railway Station, to step back in time for a steam locomotive trip to Papar and back. The North Borneo Railway is the oldest running steam train in Sabah and Borneo. The nostalgic romance of an old steam train relives memories of the bygone colonial era.

Boarding at Tanjung Aru Station
Boarding at Tanjung Aru Station

The North Borneo Railway offers passengers an opportunity to experience the bygone era of British North Borneo while transporting passengers along the lifeline of Sabah. Refurbished to create the nostalgic romance of people travelling by steam train in the days of the Chartered Company and the British Colonial Office, both the exterior and interior provide an environment which would have been typical of stepping onto a train in the early 1900s.

The Vulcan Steam Locomotive
The Vulcan Steam Locomotive

The exterior of the carriages utilises the traditional deep green and cream of the original North Borneo Railway, with carved brass logos showcasing the original design of a tiger holding a rail wheel, standing on the royal crown. The interior highlights the natural timbers of Sabah, and unless the train is fully booked, passengers are offered free seating on one of the five colonial-style passenger train carriages.

Breakfast en route
Breakfast en route

The train departs the station at 10.00 hrs, passing through villages and coastal towns, rice paddy fields, rainforest and plantations of rubber and coffee, a ride on North Borneo Railway is truly a journey of rediscovery into the heart of Borneo.

In 1903, Arthur J. West, an English civil engineer, extended a 64 km railway line from Beaufort to Tenom, and to Melalap, where labourers, mainly Hakka and Cantonese, came from China to undertake what was known to be the most challenging task of construction along the Padas gorge section. In the meantime the 90 km line from Beaufort to Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu) was also constructed. This is the line which the train runs along today, however, only as far as Papar, which is located some 45 km North of Beaufort.

View of the train en route
View of the train en route

Sago mills appeared in Beaufort and Papar. Sugar, tapioca, silk, soya beans, pineapples and rice began to be hauled to the port at Jesselton for export.

The North Borneo Railway was established on 01 August, 1914, and things began to pick up in 1924. However, victory did not last long, because in 1930, the Great Depression spread throughout the world. This threw men out of work everywhere; trade was almost halted; there was no sale of rubber and established companies collapsed. Hardly had the world recovered from this when the Second World War began in 1939. The Japanese 37 Army, under Lt. General Masao Baba, occupied North Borneo. WWII and the Japanese Occupation almost paralysed the whole railway system between 1944 and 1945. Despite severe damage, the railways continued providing its vital service to the state during the war. Locomotives continued running between bridges and “Rail Jeeps” were modified to replace damaged locomotives.

The trip follows the line through villages close to the coast line. A stop of about 20 minutes will be made at Kinarut Town around 10.40 hrs, allowing you to visit Tien Shi Temple, one of the oldest Chinese temples in the region.

Tien Shi Chinese Temple at Kinarut
Tien Shi Chinese Temple at Kinarut

You will arrive in Papar around 11.45 hrs. The local produce market is located only a short walk from the station. You will have about 35 - 40 minutes to explore the town before re-boarding the train to return to Kota Kinabalu. A tiffin lunch will be served shortly after departing Papar.

Tiffin Lunch is served
Tiffin Lunch is served
Tiffin Lunch
Tiffin Lunch

Enjoy the return journey - keep an eye out for things which you may have missed on Southbound journey. You should arrive at Tanjung Aru Station in KK around 13.45 hrs, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

[includes a late breakfast - Danish pastries, croissant, fruit preserves and coffee or tea - and tiffin lunch]

Note that this tour currently only operates on Wednesday and Saturday.


Tour CodeDestinationDurationInclusions1 Person2 People3 People
KK16North Borneo Railway to PaparHalf DayBreafast and Tiffin Lunch,
vist to Papar, visit to Tien Shi Temple
$150 $150 $150
Prices per person in Australian Dollars and valid 01 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 (E.O.E.)

Photographs courtesy of Phil Youdale