KTM Update: Allegations over the purchase of DMUs by KTM

TRANSIT has been following the controversy over the purchase of Diesel Multiple Unit Trains by KTMB.

We received the following information from an unnamed (but very well informed) source about the purchase of second-hand Diesel Multiple Unit trains by KTM Berhad, which makes the following allegations:

  • The Minister of Transport himself made a personal request to the MOF for RM30m for these second hand trains.
  • On November 11, 2009 OTK denied on Bernama that Costa Rica bought it at Euro 2m ( approx. rm 10m) for 4 sets without modifications. He said that Costa Rica had purchased it at Euro 2m (approx rm10m) for ONE set each;
  • The March edition of the “Railway Gazette International” will tell you that Costa Rica recently purchased 4 sets of DMUs for Euro2m which works out to be RM10m for 4 units. NOT rm10m each according to his statement in Bernama on November 11;
  • Costa Rica purchased the 4 sets of used DMUs for approx rm10m which includes costly modifications to suit the existing railway track system. (The Costa Rica railway tracks are 1.076 metre wide as compared to those of the Spanish railway and KTMB, which is 1 metre in width. Hence, the DMU purchase price of Euro2m for 4 sets by Costa Rica INCLUDES modifications).

TRANSIT Says:

The information as posted to Railway Gazette’s World Rolling Stock Market March 2009 does say the following:

Costa Rica: Incofer is to purchase an additional four Class 2400 DMUs from Spanish metre-gauge operator FEVE for €2m. FEVE will also provide technical assistance and training.

Regarding the purchase by KTMB, the Railway Gazette’s World Rolling Stock Market November 2009 says the following:

Malaysia: KTMB is to buy four Class 2400 two-car DMUs from FEVE of Spain to boost capacity on Klang Valley routes before later deployment on the east coast.

The letter continues:

The MOF approved the procurement on May 19, 2009 but MOF stated that it wanted certain conditions to be complied with;

  • Maintenance cost
  • Continuous availability of the parts
  • Technical support for the DMUs
  • The DMUs must be equipped with the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) so safety standards for the passengers are assured.

Problems with the DMUS

  1. KTMB freight are now running at 90Km/hr on double tracks but these DMUs run at max speed of RM80km/hr (this does not comply with the KTMB SOP);
  2. On top of it, FEVE (the Spanish train operator that sold the old DMU to us) is already phasing out its fleet of old DMUs with new ones that can run at 120km/hr. Why are Malaysians sitting in old trains at go at only 80km/hr, bought at 3 times more of the market price?;
  3. The ATP safety system (ASFA type) on the DMU is not compatible with the current system of the KTMB (Ansaldo ATP);
  4. Maintenance cost of the DMU is estimated to be RM564k per set compared with RM500k for the EMU system;
  5. In 2002, FEVE (the Spanish operator that sold the old DMU to MOT) had already refurbished the DMUs to reduce the passenger load from 216 to 140 passenger load.  So, there is no way these used DMU will ever comply to what was promised earlier to MOF, unless Malaysians prefer to sit on the roofs of the train like they do in India!

TRANSIT Says:

The level of disappointment that we are feeling right now is too hard to express. Frankly, we do not know which one is worse:

  1. The high cost of the procurement, where KTMB is paying 3 times the amount that Incofer paid (Euro 6 million or RM30 million for 4 trains in comparison to Euro 2 million or RM10 million for 4 trains);
  2. The fact that KTM is buying used Diesel Multiple-Unit (DMU) trains when it should be buying new Electrical Multiple-Unit (EMU) trains;
  3. The fact that KTMB / EPU / MOF / MOT (let’s blame the whole lot) did not purchase EMU trains back in 2005 so that they would have been timed to arrive before the older trains went for their overhaul in late 2007 / early 2008.
  4. The fact that the government has no problem approving a proposed RM15 bn extension of two LRT lines to Putra Heights, but cannot find enough money to buy EMU trainsets for KTM Berhad.

The Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit is  extremely disappointed by the actions (or should we say, inactions) of the Federal Government with respect to their failure to maintain the quality and standards of KTM passenger services (Intercity and Komuter) by purchasing enough trains in a timely manner.

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad of TRANSIT had been calling on the government to invest in KTM Komuter in early 2006 and warned the public and the government about the consequences of delaying that investment.

The breakdown of KTM Komuter services, and the quick-fix solutions such as the creation of “hybrid” trains and the purchase of used DMU trains (at an inflated cost) are those very consequences.

TRANSIT is further sad to note that the attention of the Prime Minister to Public Transport (by placing it as one of his National Key Result Areas) may be too late to resolve the current problems at KTM Berhad. Even the purchase of 8 EMUs as outlined in the 2010 Budget (which was mooted back in 2008) will make little difference since the trains will only arrive in 2012, and of course because KTM Komuter needs more than 40-60 trains to operate at a decent service frequency.

The current state of KTM Berhad and the Ministry of Transport is untenable. Under the circumstances, it is not much of a surprise that the Prime Minister will be taking over control of two major functions of the Ministry of Transport (the Department of Railways and Road Transport Department) when the proposed Public Land Transport Commission is created in mid-2010.

But even this centralization of authority within the Prime Minister’s Department may do little to help improve the state of public transportation in this country.

That is why we need all wakil rakyat from all political parties to stand up for better public transport.

For this reason, TRANSIT proposes that the Federal and State governments work together immediately to set up the Klang Valley Transport Council. In addition, we propose that MPs from both parties be appointed to a Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Transport. We further suggest that the Prime Minister create Parliamentary Select Committees for all of the National Key Result Areas that he has identified.

There are many problems in this country, but if the wakil rakyat start taking up their responsibility and remember that they work together for the people, there is no end to solutions that can be found!

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