North Borneo Railway was first established when the demand for tobacco was the highest in 1880. The British Chartered Company set up North Borneo Railways (NBR) on August 1, 1914. NBR was aimed at providing cheap transportation facilities for the people, timber and agricultural products. At that time, only steam locomotives were used. Only recently in the 1980s, did the Sabah Government acquire modern and faster Japanese diesel powered locomotives that were much cheaper to operate, compared with the higher cost of buying firewood and water to run the steam engines.
Sabah’s only 100-year old railway track is 134 kilometers long, starts from the railway’s head office (main station) at Tanjung Aru/Kepayan and ends at the small town of Tenom, one of Sabah‘s cleanest towns!
The North Borneo Railway features a British Vulcan steam locomotive, designed and built by the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows, England in 1954. The factory subsequently converted to diesel and electric locomotive construction.
The Vulcan 6-015, a 2-6-2 carrying a green livery with polished boiler bands and red edging to the running plate and tender frame, was de-commissioned for general use in the early 1970’s by the Sabah State Railway Department. It was proudly re-launched in January 2000, in honour of Kota Kinabalu achieving City-Status.
This steam engine represents the last of a fleet of steam engines that have plied the tracks through Borneo since the late 1800’s and, it is also one of the only functional wood-burners left in the world.
The North Borneo Railway also features six carriages that have been meticulously restored and renovated to reflect the era of the steam train. The exterior utilizes the traditional deep green and cream of the original North Borneo Railway, with carved brass logos featuring the original British seal.
The interior, highlighting the natural woods of Sabah, has comfortable seating and dining facilities. Every carriage provides the amenity of a modern washroom onboard. Seating accommodates 36 passengers per carriage, with a total train capacity of 180 passengers. An exotic bar car and observation deck accompanies the train, providing a comfortable lounge area to heighten the overall journey experience.
The North Borneo Railway runs twice weekly return departures from Kota Kinabalu / Papar all year round. Lasting approximately 4 hours, passengers experience the lush landscape of the coastal and rural regions of Sabah. A typical colonial lunch will be served on board.
Departures on Wednesday and Saturday at 9:40 am (returning at approximately 1:40pm)
Scheduled Weekly Departures (Kota Kinabalu/Papar/Kota Kinabalu)
RM385.50 nett per Adult/per Child (Complimentary for child below 3 years old)
Rates are inclusive of meal and light beverages
Food and Beverage service is available onboard, featuring an Continental breakfast and Tiffin-style lunch.