KTM Komuter Krisis

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.

28 September
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.

KK LIM,
Kuala Lumpur.

TRANSIT Says:

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 October
WE 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,
President,
KTM Bhd.

TRANSIT Says:

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:

  1. The overhaul which actually began in early 2007 is what led to the “Komuter Krisis” of late 2007 & early 2008
  2. We do not know how the contractor was selected
  3. The contractor was too slow in refurbishing trains but they continued to take trains from KTM Komuter
  4. KTM had to adjust their schedule to 20 minute headways instead of scheduled trains.
  5. KTMB had to take over the overhaul themselves.
  6. KTMB is now appointing a ROTEM contractor to carry out the remaining overhaul
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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
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4 thoughts on “KTM Komuter Krisis”

  1. Correction: The 82 Class EMU manufacturer still exists:

    http://www.ucw.co.za

    Only 81 Class EMU manufacturer, Jenbacher, is no longer in the scene.

    EMUs do not get overhauled because of age, TRANSIT. They get overhauled after a certain mileage, in the case of KTM EMUs, 1 million KMs. In that 14 years I should imagine the vast majority have chalked up a few cycles of that but did not undergo proper overhaul that commensurates with the mileage.

    The contractor for the EMU overhaul was, is and will probably still be the same – MKRC. KTM did not take over the overhaul.

    To operate comfortably, KTM needs 38 + 2 EMU sets, not taking into account the need generated from RIDT. With that, at least another 20 will be needed.

    Ask the government to buy whatever it needs from ONE manufacturer only as per what SMRT did initially with their MRT EMUs. That way no manufacturer will snub requests for spares.

    1. Hi Relentless

      The manufacturer of the Class 82 trains still exists but TRANSIT had been informed that they now focus on the internal coachworks. We will check on those details.

      As for overhauling with age, we mentioned ’20 years’ for a major overhaul. Generally we expect a train to take 20 years to achieve the necessary mileage for a major overhaul, not the 14 years described in KTM’s Managing Director in the letter.

      As for the contractor, we were informed that KTM would take over the overhaul and this was mentioned in the news but as you point out, they never did take over the overhaul. But that still does not explain why the contractor was slow and why KTMB continued to send trains to them even though they were slow.

      Comfortable operations depends on a few different factors, but we at TRANSIT believe that service frequencies should be higher than the 12-15 minutes that were present in 2005-2006. As we recall, Komuter did operate with a larger fleet (more than 50 trainsets) in the past.

      As for the RIDT, that is another factor that is of concern to us, namely because the further the Komuter extends from KL, the greater the service pressures it will face. Some commuters (those in the Federal Territory & surrounding areas) need train service that is high frequency, 5-7 minutes. Others living further out from KL, outside of the Klang Valley, need to have 12-15 minute frequencies.

      KTM Komuter is going to have a major challenge managing these two types of service demands in the near future.

      As for the sole sourcing to one manufacturer – as long as there is a competitive, open tender and KTMB gets the best price and quality, then sole-sourcing+open tender would be the best option to cut costs and increase the quality of trains.

      Right now ROTEM seems to be getting KTMB’s EMU trainset orders and we expect this will continue for the near future.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT.

  2. If I recall the manual of the EMUs all specify major overhaul upon reaching the 1mil KM mark. Not age. EMUs clock mileage far quicker than normal rollingstock, so parts wear faster, hence its need for OH is measured in clocked miles, not age. Komuter started with a fleet of 62 EMUs.

    IMO 5-7 minutes is a bit demanding, considering that the tracks are shared with freight and intercity services. As it is the stretch between Sentral and Putra is utilized about every 3 minutes on average and is congested. Even 10 minutes is reasonably tight, but practical.

    BTW on this subect, I think Transit should inspect the frequency of the Star line after 6PM, especially on the Sri Petaling branch. Sometimes it’s as much as 20 minutes, sometimes more, judging from the fact that at least three Komuter EMUs pass by near Bdr Tasik Selatan by the time the next Star line train arrives.

    HPID did a great job with their 83 class EMUs, so buying EMUs from ROTEM IMHO is a step in the right direction. Need to buy more though.

    1. Hi Relentless

      We would love to have a copy of the service manual for our library so we could have more information. It would be interesting to see if some of the EMU trainsets have received more use, therefore more miles and wear and tear than the others.

      Regarding 5-7 minutes, you are right that it would be demanding. That is why we have supported KTMBs plan for the Serendah bypass, to connect Port Klang with Serendah and bypass the city centre. Sadly, it does not seem to be a project that gets much attention – even though it will improve KTM Freight, Intercity and Komuter services quite a bit.

      If KTM Komuter cannot maintain the 5-7 minute frequencies then they should have longer trains at 10-minute frequencies. We believe this is probably what they intend to do, as there appears to be a plan to purchase 30 trains for Komuter and it appears that the ETS trains will be running on the Ipoh-KL-Seremban route rather than just Ipoh-KL.

      Regarding the frequency of STAR (Ampang line) trains, we will investigate and ask Prasarana for more information. Prasarana is purchasing 13 more trains for the Ampang line extension but those will not arrive until 2012.

      Sincerely

      Moaz for TRANSIT

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