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NBR – Carriage of Nostalgia

The smell of burning woods. Heat from the steam engine. It’s like stepping into another era. Chugging away on the historical North Borneo Railway evokes a romance of bygone era.

The official North Borneo Railway was established on 1 August 1914. World wars and the Depression paralysed the system intermittently, then finally in 1971 steam locomotives were replaced by modern diesel trains. In 2000, the steam engines were resurrected as a historic tourist attraction.

The engine used today is a British-built wood-burning Vulcan (supposedly more environmentally friendly than coal).

The five Japanese-designed carriages were built in the 1970s, and refurbished to recreate carriages typical of the 1900s featuring local woods from Sabah.

Each carriage has room for only 16 passengers, sitting facing each other with a wooden table in-between.

Seats are comfy upholstered benches with the North Borneo Railway logo attached on brass plaques and all are window seats as it is one passenger per bench.

Don’t worry if you are travelling backwards, as the train reverses for the return journey.

Large windows remain open for the full smokey experience, and breezy ceiling fans keep the carriage cool. Each carriage has a bathroom, and a British Pullman carriage functions as the kitchen car.

Everyone will be able to watch the steam engine shunt and couple with the carriages, which happens just prior to departure time.

The journey starts with the blowing of the horns and the British Vulcan steam locomotive chugs away with everyone on-board.

Once inside the carriages, everyone will be greeted by well-appointed stewards, all friendly and ready to serve.

They will then be handed their ‘passports’. It’s a small booklet giving commuter a glimpse of what NBR is all about including the origin of the stunning locomotive.