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East coast train services in doubt


KUALA LUMPUR: It is all up to KTM Bhd (KTMB) whether there will be train services to Pahang and Ke­­lan­tan for Hari Raya, said the Land Public Transport Commission.

Its rail division head Yuslizar Daud said the commission had done all it could to facilitate the reopening of the railway, especially the 321km stretch between Gemas and Gua Musang.

However, Yuslizar said KTMB had not even finished with critical work that would allow for the resumption of partial services.

“KTMB itself acknowledges that 6,083 pieces of rotting wooden sleepers need to be replaced first but as of July 2, it has only changed 202 pieces,” he told reporters here on Friday.

The 296km stretch between Gemas and Merapoh in Pahang, he added, still had 41 spots with insufficient ballast – crushed stones that forms the foundation for the tracks.

If the ballast is not deep enough, the underlying soil will be overloaded and can cause the tracks to gradually sink, causing safety issues.

At several spots between Menta­kab and Jerantut and between Jerantut and Kuala Lipis in Pahang, soil from erosion was also found to have entered the ballast pile, compromising its performance.

Other issues include wrongly-constructed drainage between Bahau and Kemayan, with a pair built too close to the tracks.

“Our approval is conditional upon KTMB finishing all these work as well as having an independent engineer to verify that the repairs are up to mark,” said Yuslizar, adding that it is still possible for KTMB to finish replacing the remaining 5,881 sleepers within a week.

This could be achieved, he said, if KTMB were to ramp up the number of workers by at least 90 and that repairs continue round the clock.

Last Thursday, KTMB president Sarbini Tijan had said it would like to run trains between Gemas and Gua Musang for Hari Raya.

KTMB’s proposal involve terminating trains at Gua Musang before busing passengers to towns like Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Tanah Merah and Kuala Krai.

Trains are not able to proceed be­­yond Gua Musang as a railway bridge at Kemubu was destroyed in last December’s floods.

The commission’s chairman, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, said even if KTMB failed to restart its east coast service by Raya, commuters should not face any problem getting back to their hometowns as there would be enough express buses.

Applications for temporary bus licences for Raya will open this Fri­day, with some 400 expected to be issued.

“We issued about 300 last year and we do not think that anyone will be left stranded. Juct don’t buy tickets from touts,” he said.

Ktmb

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