Commentary: KTMB running ‘hybrid’ trains – a shame it was made to happen

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TRANSIT takes note of this article in the Star on May 15 and follow up articles on May 16 in The Star and NST

KTMB running hybrid trains to deal with congestion

15 May 2009
By KNG ZHENG GUAN

KUALA LUMPUR: KTMB is solving the high demand for commuter trains by running “hybrid” trains which are made up of disused KTM Komuter coaches pulled by diesel locomotives.

KTMB managing director Datuk Abd Radzak Abd Malek said this is a short-term measure to deal with peak hour congestion until the new electric commuter train arrives.

Speaking to reporters after launching the service at Kuala Lumpur station, Abd Radzak said two such hybrid have been running since May 6.

The trains are serving the Shah Alam-KL Sentral and Kajang-Rawang routes. More routes will be added later.

The disused KTM Komuter trains are those whose engines are out of commission.

Abd Razak smiles for a photo op at Kuala Lumpur station on Friday, 15 May 2009
Abd Razak smiles for a photo op at Kuala Lumpur station on Friday, 15 May 2009 - image courtesy of The Star

TRANSIT says:

It is good to see that KTMB is innovating and trying to do more with the situation that they have been stuck with.  It is sad that they have been stuck with this situation because of a lack of investment from the government.

Before you complain to a KTMB employee, please remember that KTM Komuter is carrying 3 times the number of passengers it carried in 1994 – using a fleet that is less than half of the original fleet.

It is absolutely wrong that KTM Komuter service is effectively regressing.  Going back to diesel locomotives to pull these Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) trains is simply sad and it never should have happened – but that is what you get with poor planning.

Moaz from TRANSIT did speak to KTMB management in mid-2008 and gave a specific suggestion about running shuttle trains pulled by the extra diesel locomotives – apparently the new KTM locomotives bought in 2007 were underpowered so instead of using them for freight trucks they are using them to pull passenger carriages.

TRANSIT assumes that KTMB does not have enough passenger carriages to be pulled since the intercity service is actually seeing growth, so they are innovating again by making use of the ‘dead’ EMU trains.

In effect, we have reduced KTM Komuter service to using weak, underpowered diesel locomotives pulling dead EMU trains that can no longer move under their own power to provide a level of service that is way below expectations.

I do not mean for this to be insulting but this is like a case of ‘the blind leading the blind’ – and a true example of the effect of poor planning and poor decision making by the government – who delayed the purchase of new train.

What upsets TRANSIT even more is that the government has only purchased 13 new EMUs for the KTM Komuter service – when in fact they should have purchased 100 new EMU trains!

KTMB is listening and innovating and doing the best they can with the few crumbs they have been given – but it is the politicians who really need to hear what is being said.

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7 thoughts on “Commentary: KTMB running ‘hybrid’ trains – a shame it was made to happen”

  1. It is surprising that KTMB waited so long to put these “Hybrid” trains into service while waiting for the rest to be refurbished. This shows that the previous management was utterly incompetent in managing and solving the woes that plague KTM Komuter.

    I am a daily user of Komuter and I can say that the quality of Komuter service is still far from satisfactorily, despite the recent introduction of Shutter [shuttle] and Hybrid trains. Train delays (due to “technical” problems) and cancellations are still very common, even in the early morning. This is indeed puzzling because in the morning the trains should be readily to depart from deports to meet the morning rush hours.

    Above all else, I believe the very first thing KTMB needs to rein in is the sub-par quality of maintenance, not just of the trains but also of the facilities. A train [that] breaks down in the middle of service or at depots can bring the entire service to its knee, causing users [to be] late to work or back to home. I personally had been stranded in a station for more than 2 hours, thanks to the so-called “technical problems”.

    Without a well-maintained fleet, KTMB will not be able to maintain the schedule, which is the main source of complaints from the users of Komuter. Only after the maintenance issue is resolved, KTMB can start to tackle the overcrowding issue.

    KTMB still have a long way to go. But if senior management of KTMB is required to take Komuter to work everyday, the progress should be able to expedite manifolds.

  2. The ‘hybrid’ trains were proposed during the days of the previous management, but it was rejected by that management on technical grounds, and those grounds stand true to this day. What is being raised on an internet railway forum about this has very solid arguments. Google!

    KTM Diesel Locomotives, underpowered? Check your facts please…hint: Check with the engineers, not anyone else.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      We do need more professionals in the industry sharing their knowledge with the public.

      We were told that the problems with the Dalian Locomotives included them not having enough power to pull a full-sized freight train.

      If you have other information, please share it here on the forum. Perhaps you could share that forum link? Or connect us with some engineers.

      Thanks in advance.

      Regards, Moaz

  3. There is nothing wrong with using these old trains. In fact I would even go as far to suggest that they make it a longer 6 coach +1 loco train set. Oh and fellow readers of this blog please go complain to your fellow assembly men so we can have better service.

    1. Blargh,

      There is nothing wrong with the trains themselves except perhaps the pollution and health affects associated with the diesel trains.

      Our main concern is that the maintenance of the EMUs got to such a poor state that they had to resort to pulling these trains with diesel locomotives.

      It is a creative and effective solution but it never should have been necessary.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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