eThe members of TRANSIT were shocked to read the following letter from Jeremy Vinesh that alleges poor maintenance of a KTM Komuter train and negligence from a KTMB employee.
- Update 4: The response from KTM was posted here.
- Update 3: an interesting letter has been written to the Star in response to Jeremy Vinesh
- Update 2: Jeremy has responded to this post and we are trying to get more details. We also appreciate more information from others and encourage further discussion of what happened.
- Update 1: Updated with a copy of our public statement (see below)
TRANSIT is extremely disturbed by the information as described in the letter and will request for further information from the writer. We will also demand a full investigation from by KTMB and the Department of Railways.
Komuter is a rail letdown (The Star)
Wednesday December 2, 2009
ASK any person who frequently takes the train and they will tell you that KTM has no sense of punctuality. Waiting for two hours, which is most likely unheard of in countries like Japan and Singapore, is an everyday occurrence here.
The number of classes I have missed thanks to this “excellent” network of trains in the past few years is quite a few. As for commuters who are working, how many times can they tell their superior that they were late due to the train service?
Now it’s even getting to a point where KTM’s inefficiency is starting to endanger the lives of passengers. Recently I was rushing home after class as I had to send a friend to the airport for a flight leaving at 10.30pm. [TRANSIT: We need the date]
My class finished at 5.30pm and I was in the station by 5.45pm. The train only came in at 6.45pm. It stopped at the KL station for about 20 minutes.
We passengers could feel that something was wrong because the train was tilted on its side. [TRANSIT: We wonder how KTM Komuter division could let the train continue on in public service in this state.]
[TRANSIT: Commenter Relentless points out below that the train may have been tilted because it had stopped on a curve. We are attempting to confirm where the train stopped.]
Suddenly another train from the opposite direction brushed through, hitting the door of the first train, causing sparks and violently jolting it. At this point the air-conditioning system stopped working, and we were stranded in the middle of nowhere in a train which didn’t have air supply. [TRANSIT: Where exactly? What was the last station that you stopped at? Clearly it was not Kuala Lumpur station.]
After 20 minutes, people were starting to suffocate. The woman next to me was getting light-headed; I couldn’t stand the heat any more and opened the emergency doors to let some air in.
When I opened the door, I realised that we were in the middle of a jungle, and at 7.30pm it was pitch dark. There was a telephone number printed on the side of the train stating that we should call the number in case of emergency.
I called the number and to my surprise it rang for a bit before the line was cut off on the other side. They actually cut off an emergency number!
Even the employee working on the train did nothing. He just got off the train and walked away, leaving all the passengers on their own without knowing what was going on. [TRANSIT: Absolutely shocking!]
[It is fair to point out that the employee may not have been an Operations staff]
I knew it would take ages for them to get the train going, so I got out and walked in the dark all the way to the previous station. [TRANSIT: Which station?]
[TRANSIT: We should have pointed out that getting off and walking was not a safe act]
To make matters worse, KTM has terrible workers for the most part.
They do not have a policy of helping customers, and are usually chatting among themselves or trying to flirt with female passengers as they pass by.
At peak hours, the ticketing counters have only one person tending to them and that person is usually texting or talking on his phone and taking his own sweet time to give you the ticket or change for your money.
The ticketing machines that are placed there work when they feel like working, and it’s the passengers who are left in the lurch.
Most of the stations close their ticket counters at 9pm. After that, passengers have to buy their tickets from the machines which most of the time either don’t work at all or can’t process the money they are given.
I suggest selling KTMB to a private company that can run the system efficiently, like how Putra is being run. [TRANSIT: As if PUTRA / RapidKL is being run so well!]
Just in case KTMB is thinking of publishing a reply stating how sorry it is about the difficulty I encountered and how it is trying to improve the service, all I would say to them is to just save it and resign from your job.
Anyone who thinks I am overreacting or that my allegations are baseless, just take a ride on the trains and prove me wrong.
Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh.
As above, we will investigate and ask for more details. More to come soon.
In response to Jeremy’s letter, TRANSIT has issued the following statement which we have copied to the Minister of Transport, Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport and the Director General of the Department of Railways.
The Association for the Improvement of Mass-Transit (TRANSIT) wishes to express its shock and dismay regarding the incident described in the letter by one Jeremy Vinesh, which involved a major service delay, a poorly maintained Komuter Electric-Multiple Unit (EMU) trainset and an allegedly careless and negligent KTMB employee.
According to Jeremy’s description, the service delay was 1 hour before the scheduled train arrived. However, his description of the train suggests to TRANSIT that it should never have been brought into service. If the employees of the Komuter division allowed a train that was so mechanically deficient to be “noticeably leaning to one side” to continue into service carrying passengers, they have displayed gross carelessness and negligence. Aside from violating their responsibilities as KTMB employees, they have violated their client’s charter and promises of safe and efficient service.
The description of the KTM Komuter driver abandoning the train when it made the unexpected stop is even scarier. It suggests that the employee was poorly trained and unable to respond to a dangerous situation. This calls into question KTMB’s safety practices and employee training. That the emergency number was cut off also reflects poor training and poor handling of dangerous situations.
Jeremy also described another train coming from the opposite direction that “brushed past” and “hit the train, causing sparks and violently jolting it”. Any kind of situation where a train stops is extremely dangerous and the train should have been evacuated safely. That another train stuck the stopped train suggests that the other driver was unaware of the situation and did not respond properly. This also suggests a serious breakdown in communications at KTMB’s control centre.
The incident described by Jeremy suggests that KTMB has let itself become a danger to the safety of the traveling public. TRANSIT asks that Jeremy and other passengers on the train contact us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org / 012-248-3330 with details about the incident, especially the date and time and the last station that the train stopped at.
Furthermore, TRANSIT calls upon the Director General of the Department of Railways and the Minister of Transport to launch an investigation into the incident. We also call on the Managing Director and the Board of Directors of KTM Berhad to respond to the allegations as described by Jeremy Vinesh.
TRANSIT has always been concerned about the state of mass-transit in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the Malaysian government has seen fit to invest very little into public transport service and prefers to devote its attention to new, costly megaprojects such as LRT extensions to suburban areas at RM400 million /km. Then there is the KL-Ipoh Electrification and Double Tracking project that went RM1.4 billion over budget, finished in May 2007 and *still* does not have trains operating.
The public and wakil rakyat can no longer ignore this situation, especially since our safety is now at risk.