LAST MONTH was due to see the start of work to modernise the 134 km railway between Tanjung Aru and Tenom in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Assistant Infrastructure Development Minister Aklee Abbas announced in March that two contractors had been appointed to undertake the upgrading at a cost of 334m ringgit. State-owned Suria Capital Holding is responsible for Sector 1 from Km3·9 to Km55·6, and Kuala-Lumpur based Hikmat Asia Sdn Bhd the 84 km Sector Two.

Infrastructure renewals will see jointed 30 kg/m rail on timber sleepers replaced by 40 kg/m CWR and concrete sleepers.

A new optic fibre communications link is to be laid, and 41 concrete and steel bridges replaced. New stations are to be built at Putatan, Kawang, Papar, Kimanis, Saliq-angan, Halogilat, Rayoh, Pangi and Tenom, whilst those at Kinarut, Bongawan, Mem-bakut and Beaufort are to be modernised.

Meanwhile, the State Railway Department has refurbished two wood-burning steam locos to haul tourist trains in a joint venture with Sutera Harbour Resort.