TRANSIT took note of the following two letters this week that reflect the current state of affairs with the KTM Komuter service – a frustrated commuter public and a frustrated KTMB management and operations staff.
TRANSIT has maintained for a very long time that KTM Komuter needs more trains and a revision of existing services in order to meet the needs of commuters. If necessary, they should even consider moving to bus-based services for outlying komuter routes that have lower demand, allowing them to concentrate on the core profitable routes. But the main point is that the government needs to finance the overhaul of KTM Komuter services and the expansion of Komuter service to meet the growth in passenger demand.
I AM a frequent user of KTM Komuter.
While I am grateful that KTM is providing affordable travelling, it is disappointing to note that its services have hardly improved over the past 10 years.
KTM Komuter is notorious for being late. Technical problems are always the cause, it seems.[TRANSIT: Not having enough trains is the cause. Everything else is just secondary.]
What has the management done for the past 10 years since such problems keep recurring?
Secondly, cancellations have become a norm, too. And, commuters are informed only minutes before a train is sheduled to arrive. [TRANSIT: This is a serious issue and speaks to KTM Komuter’s management]
This makes it difficult to plan our journey.
Thirdly, KTM Komuter is packed during peak hours, possibly due to its failure to stick to its schedule. When people cannot wait any longer they squeeze into an already crowded train. This makes the journey extremely uncomfortable. [TRANSIT: See our note about not enough trains]
Packed to the brim, the question of hygiene comes to mind. It is difficult to avoid sneezing into another person’s face. How then can we curb the spread of the A(H1N1)? [TRANSIT: The question of hygiene has only come to mind recently with the A(H1N1) pandemic and public transport operators are working to cope with the new problems brought about…but good hygiene is not a practice that should be just for A(H1N1)]
Some who have given up hope on the KTM Komuter have decided to drive their own cars. Others use it because the service is cheaper.
Needless to say, KTM Komuter is definitely not suitable for those who observe punctuality. Imagine doctors, lawyers and businessman having to depend on on the KTM Komuter to conduct their daily work.
With the Government trying to promote better use of public transport to reduce road congestions and pollution, much more should be done to improve the KTM Komuter services.
KTMB has plans to extend its services to many more areas within the Klang Valley. Based on its track records, I am doubtful of its ability to do this.
Sometimes, it hurts more to give false hope than not to give any at all.
Commuters will be glad to see KTMB attend to the needs of its existing networks before investing on an expansion.
We understand the frustrations that KK Lim is expressing in his letter because we see and experience these frustrations ourselves.
The simple fact is that KTM Komuter needs more trains. We recognized this back in 2007 and have expressed it to the government but they refuse to recognize this fact.
The response from KTMB is below:
KTM Komuter acts on grouses (The Star)
2 OctoberWE refer to the letter by KK Lim, Kuala Lumpur “Put it on the right track before taking things further” (The Star, Sept 28).
We are aware of the public grouses on the KTM Komuter delays and would like to assure our passengers that we are constantly and pro-actively exploring all possible avenues to resolve the delays.
The KTM Komuter sets currently in operation are 14 years old in average, and in need of a major overhaul. [TRANSIT: Frankly, trains should be 20 years old before an overhaul is necessary]
While the overhaul is being carried out currently, KTM Komuter is operating optimally where all functioning sets are being utilised to their maximum potential. [TRANSIT: The overhaul began in 2007. KTMB took over the overhaul when it became clear by the end of 2007 that the contractor selected was incapable of completing the overhaul as expected and in a timely fashion]
However, the number of available sets in operation now cannot fulfil the demand of transporting nearly 100,000 people daily. [TRANSIT: If only he could say it clearly. “We do not have enough trains”]
Despite the challenges and limitations, KTM has taken various measures to ensure service reliability and availability.
As of this year, KTM has taken several drastic and out-of-the-box measures which include the usage of intercity coaches to transport passengers during peak hours between Seremban and Rawang, starting March 17.
Beginning May this year, we also introduced the hybrid KTM Komuter train, where KTM Komuter train sets that function well but are still awaiting propulsion system equipment from overseas were hauled using normal diesel locomotives. There are seven KTM Komuter hybrid trains now in operation, ferrying passengers at high density stations for both the Seremban–Rawang and Sentul–Port Klang routes.
[TRANSIT: KTMB staff may be commended for their ‘drastic’ and ‘out-of-the-box’ measures but this never should have been necessary. Frankly, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Finance and the Director General of the EPU should be taken to task for this!]
We are also in the midst of putting together an on-call technical assistance team to provide on-the-spot technical support in case of minor failures so passengers do not have to disembark and board another train.
We will shortly be engaging a refurbishment contractor to fix all the problems related to the refurbishment exercise. With this approach, we believe it will improve the availability and reliability of the KTM Komuter trains.
In the meantime, we are also reviewing the train timetable to cater for the two-most demanding routes between Kajang and Sg. Buloh and between Sentul and Shah Alam to provide higher frequencies during the 6am to 9am and the 5pm to 8pm peak hours.
We will shortly be rescheduling the Intercity time table in order to provide extra capacity for the KTM Komuter service during the peak periods and we plan to roll this out by Oct 15.
We would like to reassure all KTM Komuter users that we are constantly monitoring the feedback from you and endeavour to rectify the problems raised immediately.
Dr AMINUDDIN ADNAN,
We have expressed ourselves before on KTMB, with postings such as this one. With the new letters, we would like to make a few points clear:
- The overhaul which actually began in early 2007 is what led to the “Komuter Krisis” of late 2007 & early 2008
- We do not know how the contractor was selected
- The contractor was too slow in refurbishing trains but they continued to take trains from KTM Komuter
- KTM had to adjust their schedule to 20 minute headways instead of scheduled trains.
- KTMB had to take over the overhaul themselves.
- KTMB is now appointing a ROTEM contractor to carry out the remaining overhaul
- Even with the overhaul, KTM Komuter will still have less than 2/3 of the original fleet, with approximately 40 operational trainsets (original fleet was over 60) excluding spare trains
- KTM Komuter EMU Class 81 and Class 82 trains are no longer manufactured and there are no OEM spare parts available except what can be taken from the existing fleet.
- While we may commend KTMB staff for thinking of “out-of-of-the-box measures” they should never have been put in this kind of situation
- KTM Komuter needs a fleet expansion program to be started immediately with at least 20-30 3 or 4-carriage EMU trainsets being delivered each year from 2012-2016 and plans for this Fleet Expansion program should be included in the 2010 Budget and 10th Malaysia Plan