Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Great of Alleycats

The Alleycats is a Malaysia band which was formed in 1969, and gained popularity in the late 1970s. They comprise of musicians from Penang, and gained popularity in their home state earlier on in their career.

Band Members include:

§ David Arumugam on vocals

§ Loganathan Arumugam on vocals

§ Tan Chin Hock on drums

§ Shunmugam Arumugam on lead guitar

§ Chester Anthony Passerella on saxophone

§ Khoo Fook Sin and Grenville Pereira (Gren) on keyboards

§ Frank Ong on bass guitar.

Alleycats' music is said to be influenced by Air Supply, Phil Collins, Bee Gees, Billy Joel, David Gates & Bread, Santana and Paul McCartney.

Most of Alleycats albums were produced by Eric Yeo. Most of their hit songs were penned by music supremo M. Nasir with the lyrics most done by S.Amin Shahab. M.Nasir/S.Amin combination were most noticed with hit songs such as Hingga Akhir Nanti, Andai Aku Pergi Dulu, Sekuntum Mawar Merah Sebuah Puisi, Setahun Sudah Berlalu, Seribu Bintang, Nota Terakhir.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sabah Railway

Construction of the then North Borneo Railway began in 1896 under the command of civil engineer Arthur J. West. It was originally intended primarily for the transport of tobacco from the interior to the coast for export. The first line built was a 32km track from Bukau River, north to Beaufort, and south to the port of Weston. This was then extended with a further 48km route in 1903 to Tenom, the works for which was completed in 1905. The line was extended again in 1906 with a further 16km from Tenom to Melalap.

At the same time as this work, was work on another line from Beaufort to Jesselton) (now known as Kota Kinabalu) which was completed in 1903, running mostly near or beside the coast. With the completion of these works the network routes covered some 193km. However the network was almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War. In 1945, 24 Australian Infantry Brigade Group operated the railway. Motive power was mostly converted Jeeps.

In 1949 then North Borneo Railway embarked on an ambitious programme to rehabilitate the network and improve service, and once again in 1960. However in 1963 the decision was taken to close the Weston branch line, and in 1970 the Melalap extension from Tenom was also closed to traffic. The high costs of operation of the lesser used routes and the competition from the many new built roads made their situation increasingly untenable. In 1974 the main part of the line was also cut from Kota Kinabalu back to Tanjung Aru.

The line has been closed during 2007 for maintenance and repair. Papar to Beaufort is expected to be open end of 2007 and Papar to Tuarung Aru in May 2008.

The current operational railway is used for its entire length to carry both passengers and freight. The route consists of a single track metre gauge non-electrified line.

Passenger services are run using two-car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) sets from 1970. These have a single-class seating structure and are non-air conditioned. SSR also has standard passenger cars which can be connected to freight trains. These too are single class non air-conditioned. At present there are three passenger-carrying trains operating daily in each direction running the full length of the route. There is reduced service on Sundays. One of the trains running the full length route is a mix of freight and passenger service.

Freight trains are hauled by Hitachi or Kawasaki diesel locos, which were introduced at the beginning of the 1970s to replace earlier steam units. These units are less powerful than those used by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) in Peninsular Malaysia, with the various models being rated between 320hp and 580hp.

Operating speeds on the line are low, due to the nature of the terrain and the use of relatively low powered equipment. Passenger services take 4 hours to complete 134km journey from Tanjung Aru to Tenom, allowing for stops on the way. Also the line can be hazardous, with mudslides in rainy weather a real threat which can lead to the service being disrupted or suspended for brief periods.

Recently, the federal government charged KTM to work alongside SSR to undertake short and medium term works on the railway to enhance its safety. This included rehabilitating the track and signalling and also overhaul of the rolling stock in order to ensure continuation of service.

As already stated, at present the railway is currently undergoing rehabilitation. This is both a short term measure to ensure continued operation, and a medium term one to improve operational safety and to somewhat modernise the system. A possible reinstatement of the Tanjung Aru to Kota Kinbalu part of the route has been considered, although it is not yet known whether or not this will be given approval.