The Negri Sembilan government wants the federal authorities to rehabilitate the 39km Seremban-Port Dickson railway line which has been out of use for about three years now.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the state authorities would request the Land Public Transport Commission (LPTC) to consider rehabilitating the line because it had the potential to boost tourism in Port Dickson.
“We were told that it would be costly to build the line again, but we hope LPTC will consider this because the line had been there for more than 100 years,” he said.
Mohamad said the state authorities had plans to start a tourist train linking Seremban and Port Dickson four years ago but it had to be shelved because the tracks were deemed unsafe.
The Seremban-Port Dickson line has been closed since July 2008 when a freight train transporting diesel from a refinery in Port Dickson to Ipoh derailed.
In the incident in Kampung Pulai near Rantau, the train’s 14 wagons transporting liquefied petroleum gas and diesel as well as the locomotive went off the tracks.
Before that, the line was used exclusively by two refineries in Port Dickson to transport their products to other parts of the country.
Passenger train services between Seremban and Port Dickson stopped in the mid-1970s.
The opening of the Seremban-Port Dickson Highway in 1997 also allowed companies to transport their products faster via road.
Keretapi Tanah Melayu had been reluctant to repair the tracks due to the high cost involved and that it was not a profitable venture.
Mohamad said although the project to rehabilitate the line was not listed under the 10th Malaysia Plan, he hoped that this would be considered.
“Since Port Dickson has been gazetted as a Wellness Zone, a Bandar Tentera Darat (army town) as well as Pantai Peranginan Negara (country’s popular tourist spot), we should make it easier for people to get here,” he added.
Most residents echoed Mohamad’s views and said a rail service would be an added attraction to Port Dickson.
Retired policeman Sarjit Singh, 62, remembers the days when he used to travel by rail from Sentul to Port Dickson to visit relatives.
“Although it was a much longer journey then, it was so much fun. Going to PD by train was something all my siblings looked forward to,” he said.
R. Balan, 60, said a rail service would surely boost tourism in the resort town.
“Tourists will be able to take the train right up to Port Dickson and this would also help reduce congestion on the roads,” he said.
However, self-employed C. F.Chew, 41, said the service should only be restarted if it made good economic sense.
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