Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Muar State Railway

Muar is the only town in Malaysia that had been served by its own railway network, known as Muar State Railways (MSR), operating just 4 years after the first railway line of the country from Taiping to Port Weld was inaugurated in 1885. The railway operated from 1889 to 1925 linking Jalan Sulaiman in Bandar Maharani and Sungai Pulai for a distance of 22.5 km. Being the local light railway, MSR was isolated from the national railway network but there was a plan in 1916 to extend the line to Batu Pahat. However, the project has never taken off due to financial and geographical constraints. The railway was profitable and had facilitated the mobility of people and goods besides promoting the economic development through opening of new coconut plantations along the railway corridor.

However, its prominence had dwindled upon the opening of Jalan Abdul Rahman in 1918 that linked Bandar Maharani and Parit Jawa. In addition, maintenance of the dilapidated infrastructure was very limited. The track was often neglected to the extent that poor drainage had damaged the track substructure. Moreover, the absence of ballast stone in the track construction had also contributed to the fast deterioration of the track that ground settlements were common and had caused several derailments. Huge fund was required to rehabilitate the railway. Being saddled with financial constraints and declining popularity, MSR's glorious existence of 36 years finally came to an end in 1925. Remnants of the track has disappeared since the track had been replaced by Jalan Temenggung Ahmad.

The display of MSR locomotive at Taman Tanjung Emas is the only relic that proves the presence of MSR in the past. It is believed that the locomotive is the oldest in the country that can be seen intact since the steam locomotive on display at the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur is of a later model. Considering that Muar has never been a state capital nor largest town of the state, it was a remarkable feat for Muar to have its own and exclusive railway network comparable to the present day LRT system, a facility that even Kuala Lumpur, the nation's capital, did not have at that time.

There is a local lore that only in Parit Jawa, Muar there has been an accident between a railway train and a tongkang (boat).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ishak,
    Good article mate! I for one did not know the railway existed. Thanks for the historical update!

    Henry Goh