TRANSIT took note of this interesting article on one of the “other” issues that affects the quality of LRT & Komuter service – namely metal theft.
Yesterday, police arrested more than 2 dozen metal thieves trying to steal rail track from the abandoned Subang Airport spur line.
The Malay Mail wrote the article below, with information from KTM about the challenges they are facing with respect to metal thieves.
Rail headache (Malay Mail)
Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Railway track theft
PETALING JAYA: About RM2 million is lost every year to theft of railway properties, ranging from tracks and bolts to signalling cables, which are mainly sold as scrap metal.
KTM Bhd corporate communications senior manager Mohd Fazil Ismail said an average of 300 metal theft cases occur annually along the national rail grid — an almost daily event.
He said the thefts occurred because it was difficult to monitor every part of the 1,800km network of railway lines stretching from Padang Besar in Perlis to Tanjong Pagar in Singapore.
“The thefts usually occur at the isolated sections in jungles or near villages. Occasionally, they happen in the busy urban areas,” he said.
The commuter train route from Kuala Lumpur to Port Klang is a favourite target of the thieves.
“The tracks passing through areas like Pantai Dalam, Petaling and Padang Jawa have been identified as hotspots. We have observed the thieves operate in groups of two to 10 and some of them are foreigners.
They usually take any metal piece, from the tracks to the bolts, for their iron and steel content.
“The signalling cable is also a favourite item because of its high copper content, which fetches a good price.”
Mohd Fazil said the thefts were a “nuisance” because the KTMB management had to pay to replace the stolen parts.
“To address the problem, we have forged a cooperation between the railway auxiliary policing team and the police force,” he said.
KTMB had also installed anti-vandal fences made of thick metal with the bottom buried in concrete.
“This makes it difficult for anybody seeking to cut through the fencing and trespass onto the railway tracks. These have been installed along the Sentul-Batu Caves route.”
Next time your KTM Komuter train is unexpectedly cancelled, metal theft is probably not the reason why. However, metal theft is a significant nuisance that is causing the cost (financial, social, opportunity costs) of using KTM service to increase – and we all lose together since these costs affect all of us.
The only solution right now is improved policing & enforcement and improved technology to prevent thefts – such as the vandal-resistant fence described above.