MRT Service Disruption: What It Means for Us

Petaling Jaya, September 28th 2017 – MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang  Line (SBK Line) was suspended temporarily after a man ran into the train track area. The shutdown happened on Tuesday evening as commuters are getting back from work.

The inevitable shutdown of train service has to take place due to safety concerns. Other than making sure that the area is safe for trains and passengers, the authorities also need to suspend the MRT service in order to catch the intruder. Fortunately, the police have managed to apprehend the intruder. However, his identity and motive remained undisclosed.

While commuters may be angry due to the unscheduled service suspension, we need to keep in mind that this is done with passengers’ safety in mind. The person may not be in his right state of mind, or he can possibly have malicious intent.

History has shown how much unprepared we were during times of emergency. In the aviation industry, everyone can learn from MH 370 incident when a commercial aeroplane which was supposed to leave our airspace, came back flying above Penang and disappeared until today. Therefore, although the inconvenience can be troublesome for passengers, it is done as a necessary measure to ensure the safety of everyone.

 

Source: The Star

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Feasibility study of railroad infrastructure in Borneo?

Our railroad network in peninsular Malaysia has undergone a lot of transformation since the time when it was introduced for the first time in 19th century (Taiping – Kuala Sepetang Line, no longer exists today).

Apart from Electrified Double Tracking Project (EDTP), we have also made significant progress in railroad industry by having our own rolling stock (trainset) assembling plant, operated by CRRC Zhuzhou from China. Apart from job opportunities created, indirectly we are developing our own talents in railroad industry.

(1) The atmosphere is Borneo is a little bit different compared to Peninsular Malaysia. People in Borneo would like to have more autonomy in making decisions for their own state. Landslide victory of Adenan Satem in recent state election has enlightened us on their desire since Adenan is seen as a CM that fights for more autonomy for his people.

(2) Other than having control of their immigration system (it is illegal for non-residents of Sarawak to stay more than 90 days in the state without proper permit), issues were also raised by the CM about non-Sarawakian workforce of a local oil and gas company operating in Sarawak.

What does (1) and (2) has to do with railroad infrastructure? Well, due to (1) and (2), I think it is best if concerned citizens from Sarawak to carry out their own feasibility study of developing railroad infrastructure in the state. In my opinion, railroad enthusiasts from Peninsular will be more than glad to offer any kind of assistance required, subject to restrictions by the democratically-elected state government. Of note, Sabah already has its own railway, owned by its state government.

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Kelana Jaya Line LRT Power Outage: TNB-RapidKL Blame Game

September 19th 2014 – A brief power outage has occured on 1:50 PM in some stations along Kelana Jaya line, causing commuters to be stranded at the stations as the crowd begin to swell as peak travel time draws near. According to statements made by RapidKL, the route between Masjid Jamek and Gombak station was affected by the outage. Fortunately, on 4:01 PM, power has been restored, just in time before workers find their way back home.

Although Kelana Jaya Line now has been equipped with new four-coach trains, congestion during peak periods is still a norm. It is not as bad as KL Monorail though.

During power outage, shuttle buses are being provided by RapidKL. However, the signage is not clear enough, with most of the instructions only comes from twitter.

Inter-service communication was smooth as we can see some notice put up via electronic display at Imbi KL Monorail station. However, when the service backs to normal, the signage was not updated promptly. This may cause confusion to commuters.

Translation: Kelana Jaya LRT service is fully functioning again. Any inconvenience caused are deeply regretted.

The Blame Game – RapidKL says:

On 1:50 PM, RapidKL announced the delay of Kelana Jaya Line, without mentioning specific reason of service delay.

Translation: KJ Line Update: We are having technical problems. Delays in schedule are expected.

Six minutes later they announced it was due to power fault between Masjid Jamek and Gombak.

Translation: KJ Line Update: 1350 hrs We are having power supply problems. Restoration work is being carried out.

About an hour later, they said it is because of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB):

Translation: KJ Line Update: 1450hrs Kelana Jaya LRT service is still disrupted due to power supply interruption by TNB.

They even made a direct mention to TNB official twitter account, probably inducing commuters to address their complaints to TNB directly.

The Blame Game – TNB says:

Lets see what TNB has to say, via its corporate communications general manager, Omar Sidek:

“TNB would like to clarify that the stalled LRT services earlier Friday was due to switchgear fault at Rapid KL’s end.”

“We deny news reports that burnt TNB cables caused disruption to the LRT services”

Conclusion

While we cannot find conclusive evidence yet on the occurence, we believe some sort of miscommunication took place. We hope that emergency response team of both agencies will be more prepared for problems like this.

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KTM Intercity SCS Special Train Service

KTM Intercity has recently introduced a special train service that covers between KL Sentral and Ipoh at a competitive rate.

Users can buy the tickets at KTM Intercity counters located at KL Sentral and Ipoh Station. One-way journey will cost RM 25 for adults and RM 17 for children. There is no assigned seating for this service.

We were impressed by initiative from KTM to make the best out of what they currently have, we are disappointed with the uniavailability of onboard toilet for the coach. Journey between KL Sentral and Ipoh is not a short one. With a rough estimation of about two hours, quite a number of people would need to use the onboard toilet while they are on their journey. The availability of onboard toilet is very important to enable better customer experience.

However, we understand that this is probably the best solution that can come out from KTM Berhad’s management

KTM Berhad is one of the few service providers that are being compelled to use below-average rolling stocks, impose below-average train fares and numerous other limitations. We understand that i suffers from operational loss every year. Therefore, the government needs to improve this situation.

Railway industry in Malaysia as a lot of room for growth. Right now, only North-South highway is our transport backbone between northern and southern Malaysia. Therefore, by focusing more effort on improving rail services in Malaysia, we believe that the industry can prosper at a greater pace.

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KL – Singapore High Speed Rail Link: Abe Pitches Japanese Technology to Najib

KTM Berhad Logo
KTM Berhad Logo

The Japanese Prime Minister suggested the use of Shinkansen technology in building high speed rail link between Singapore and KL during their recent meetup session, as reported by The Straits Times Asia.

Constructing high speed rail service is not easy. The government alone cannot produce a project of this magnitude without affecting other aspects of country expenditure. Therefore, initiatives and partnerships from private firms is highly encouraged to take place. Government-linked Companies (GLCs) should also move their investment arms and turn this project into a successful venture.

The establishment of high speed rail link is expected to have some degree of negative impact towards KTM Intercity service. One source said that KL – Singapore is the most profitable route for KTM Intercity. Therefore, if the rail link is established, KTM Intercity revenue might be jeopardized.

Given the fact that the fares of KTM Intercity is tightly controlled by the government, we do hope that the government does not ‘cannibalize’ its KTM Intercity service. KTM Intercity has lots of room for improvement and it is sad knowing that the government is not doing enough to propel KTM Berhad to a greater height.

We hope that KTM Berhad will have some sort of control over the proposed high speed rail link. Its current business model might be improved in order for them to carry out their business in a more logical and rational basis.

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Possible Express Bus Ticket Price Increase?

Our living cost has already been rising. Quite a number of people are complaining that the increase does not correlate well with our paycheck increase. In certain fields, the theory holds true. For a number of people, life has already starting to treat them harshly. However, on November 7, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) gave us worse news. Express bus tickets will increase, according to a news article from BERNAMA.

The SPAD chairman, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said that while the rate increase is still in planning, the price increase is inevitable as the operation cost has also been rising. Customers want more value-added services for their journey such as Wi-Fi services but they do not want to pay more at the same time. This is a difficult move as the operators need to improve their already-thinning profit margin to cope with declining satisfaction level among customers.

In addition, LANDASAN also has been receiving negative reviews on some express bus companies about system failure while booking tickets and also notoriously about how bad is the service from some express bus companies. Perhaps this is one aspect that the companies should look into. It is good to have wonderful value added amenities in express buses but customer satisfaction should never be overlooked.

We hope that with the increase of express bus ticket price, the service quality would also increase.

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KTM ETS Food Service Quality

KTM ETS
KTM ETS Logo

Recently, I came across an article in The Star complaining about food service quality onboard ETS train. According to the author, one of the crew members responded rudely when he was asked about the food. Apart from rudeness, complaints can also be seen about unavailability of staff to take care of the orders placed at Food and Beverage counter in ETS’ Food & Beverage coach.

As a service provider with dedicated coach for food and beverage service, KTM Berhad should look into this problem seriously. While there are currently many KTMB staff who can behave appropriately and responded timely with customers’ complaints, there are also some of the ‘rotten eggs’ who smear the overall image of KTM Berhad.

The article mentioned above is about six months old (as of June 2013) but we are hoping that KTM Berhad has conducted a thorough investigation about this problem and rectified it in whichever way necessary. This is important to ensure customer satisfaction is taken up to a higher level.

ETS service is a prime choice of commuters traveling between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur. If the service quality (in terms of staff and on-time performance) can be improved, quite a number of people would not mind paying extra compared to public bus as long as they can have a comfortable ride between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur.

We are hoping that KTM Berhad will continue to look into ways to improve ETS service because it has clear advantage over bus service, which is the ability to circumvent through traffic jams (they use railroads!)

Update on July 27th 2013: Dead link

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New Business Model for KTMB Freight

KTM Berhad Logo
KTM Berhad Logo

New business model is being proposed for KTMB Freight, the most profitable division in KTM Berhad as reported by Bernama.

The proposal, made by railway workers union, is championing the cause of rejecting Malaysian Mining Corporation (MMC)’s bid to invest up to RM 1 billion in KTMB Freight division. The main concern is if MMC takes over KTMB and suffer losses, employees would lose the benefits the they are currently enjoying such as bonuses, allowances, quarters and healthcare. Their proposal is to allow other private operators to use KTMB existing rail lines with their own rolling stock.

KTM YDM4 Diesel Locomotive
KTM YDM4 Diesel Locomotive

We think the step to attract private operators to use KTMB existing railroad network and paying tolls directly to KTMB will generate added revenue. Furthermore, the major constraint suffered by KTMB now is the limited number of rolling stock. In our opinion, we think the government should invest more in KTMB by providing them with reasonable number of rolling stock, in line with the ongoing double tracking project. KTMB’s current market share in cargo shipment of the country is really low with just about two to five percent.

With the promising progress of the double tracking project, we hope that KTMB will invest more on its cargo as well as passenger sector. This move will enable a more profitable KTMB and fulfilling the needs of commuters and commercial sectors.

LANDASAN

 

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Kit Siang, meter gauge is enough for the time being.

Kit Siang's Blog Screenshot
Kit Siang’s Blog Screenshot

Kit Siang’s attitude (via a post published on his official blog) towards Malaysian Electrified Double Tracking Project (EDTP) is skeptical. According to the post, it is not justifiable to spend about RM 9 billion on the project simply because our trains run on meter gauge rails and cannot move as fast as the ones on standard gauge rails.

His argument on inability of trains to move fast along meter gauge is flawed. He might forget about the terrain nature of Malaysia which prohibits the usage of standard gauge rails, especially around hilly areas. He might also overlooked the fact that turning the whole inter-city railroad service from narrow gauge to standard gauge is extremely expensive, especially this will also include the exorbitant cost of modifying, if not replacing our current narrow-gauge rolling stock.

He might also forget the fact that our trains also run through the border to Thailand, which also uses meter gauge. Changing to standard gauge will adversely affect our freight services, which accounts a significant portion of revenue to our national railway company, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) [2]. Of note, meter gauge has been here for a long time and it is a de facto standard for Southeast Asia railway network. Decision to change our railroad system (which is currently connected to neighboring countries) cannot be made single-handedly. Easier said than done.

The standard-gauge-run Acela Express, the only high-speed train service in the United States has an awesome top speed, which stands at 240 km/h. However, its average speed is only at 110 km/h due to local regulations in some stretches of its route and also due to geographical and infrastructure limitations. High speed trains are possible if the railroads are made away from general population due to high noise produced. Given our current layout, which often crosses cities and villages, it is not feasible to have such a high speed rail network as an alternative to EDTP.

Malaysia is paving its way towards better railroad service. With the introduction of double-tracked railway between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur, a new KTM service called ETS (Electric Train Services) was introduced, offering a premium service with comfy fleet of trains with various amenities. The service might not be as perfect as the ones offered in some other countries but we need to be aware that we are paving our way towards betterment. ETS has top speed of 140 km/h and offers only two-hour journey between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh (non-stop). This is actually faster than cars (did I mention it is safer?).

Let us not forget that we HAVE ALREADY BEEN USING STANDARD GAUGE in our newer rail systems, such as LRT (both Ampang and Kelana Jaya Line) and KLIA Ekspres. The reason why we stick to meter gauge for inter-city rail system is due to the integration of our freight and passenger services to neighboring countries. Therefore, we can see that the current administration is able to realize the benefits of having standard gauge railways for speed and stability.

The EDTP project might have its flaws but by simply complaining without even care to seek solution is worse. Reading their comments about. This is most probably not written by Kit Siang but I write this response because the post resembles his viewpoint, unless he states otherwise. The current government is not perfect at all but that does not indicate everything they are doing is wrong. Consider doing some homework before complaining (and not giving specific solutions).

 

Footnotes

  1. Inter-city rail service in Malaysia uses 1-meter long narrow gauge while most other parts in the world
  2. KTM Berhad depends a lot on freight services to ensure its sustainability in business. KTM Intercity service is best known for their extremely cheap rates. This does not simply happen because KTM is generous. It is a company. It spends money on maintaining trains and stations and it needs every cent of them, be it from government’s initiative or fare collection from its users. Since the fare system barely gives them profit, they need KTM Freight to survive.

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RapidKL bus crash – 14th July 2009

On July 14th 2009, a U80 RapidKL bus from Shah Alam crashed onto Federal Highway’s motorcycle lane in Kuala Lumpur. Nevertheless, the driver only suffered from minor injuries and received outpatient while there are several people in the bus were injured badly.

A recall by one of the victims can be read here.

LANDASAN perspective

yes, such accidents do happen. While what happens can be said as parts of God’s plan (Islam and Christian supposedly have the same viewpoint in this), we should also understand that there is a urgent need for us to learn the lesson, albeit in hard way, and take necessary actions.

First of all, as one of RapidKL’s users, I found out that some of the times the bus drivers tend to drive the bus faster than most vehicles on the highway. Sure, most of them will deny this. By the way, RapidKL can obtain more accurate answers for this matter from GPS device attached (if there is any) and also from avid public transport users. Thus, actions can (actually) be taken against bus drivers who drive the bus in an unethical way.

Some of us might put the blame on the troublemaker vehicle (the one that allegedly caused the bus to swerve to the roadside). It might be true also as some of the passengers admit that they saw the vehicle speeding beside the bus just before the crash. Hmmm, that is another option.

Some blame the barriers at roadside are not strong enough to withstand extreme crashing force from the bus. That one I can say its true. Possible causes: Malaysia is not rich enough to purchase extra-strength road barriers, Extre-strength road barriers might harm road users, or Extra-strength road barriers is not practical to install.

The mystery remains unsolved.

Source(s)

http://transitmy.org/2009/07/15/rapidkl-bus-crash-14-july-2009/

http://fayyadz.blogspot.com/2009/07/pemuda-bervisi-terlibat-dalam.html

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