KUALA LUMPUR: The manufacturer of the new ETS trains procured by KTM Bhd, CSR Zhuzhou Elec-tric Locomotive Co Ltd, is working round-the-clock to solve issues related to the automatic train protection system.
Two class 92 trainsets, costing more than RM50mil each, have been tested on the double tracks from Ipoh to Padang Besar since June but the first unit, codenamed ETS201, failed on almost a daily basis from June 11 to 18.
New trainsets have to clock 10,000km under what is known as fault-free running test, which evaluates a trainset’s 18 critical components related to safety, reliability and passenger comfort.
Other than the automatic train protection system (ATP), other components tested included the propulsion system, the brakes, air-conditioning, door operations, auxiliary power supply, suspension, train control and management system, couplers, and even the wipers.
Any failure during testing would lead to a reset of the odometer and the whole test has to be redone until the train covers 10,000km flawlessly before the Land Public Tranport Commission (SPAD) would give its final approval.
Wang Luke, general manager of CSR Rolling Stock Center (M) Sdn Bhd, admitted that whenever ETS201 enters the branch line to Butterworth, its ATP system would be triggered by unknown factors.
ATP is a critical safety component that automatically applies the brakes whenever it senses a fault or dangerous condition. It is meant to prevent collisions or derailment when the driver fails to observe a signal or speed restriction.
When ATP kicks in, the train would slow down. In extreme cases, the train has to be restarted, which will be an inconvenience to passengers.
It is understood that SPAD had given CSR until Thursday to solve the problem.
A KTMB source confirmed that the train had yet to be officially handed over to KTMB and CSR is obliged to resolve all problems until the trains obtain SPAD’s approval.
In an interview, Wang said CSR would be working with its on-board equipment supplier, Bombardier, to solve the problem.
“We disagree that our trainsets are inherently faulty. Other than the Bukit Mertajam to Butterworth stretch, the train ran smoothly at all other stretches,” he said.
However, observers noted that other trainsets such as the ones made by South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem (KTMB’s Class 91 trains) did not suffer the same problem.
ETS201, which was used for a demonstration run for the media during the Transport Minister’s visit to CSR’s yard in Batu Gajah earlier this month, can easily hit 160kph though its operating speed is limited to 145kph in the interest of safety.
Acknowledging that there had been much pressure for KTMB to run its new ETS fleet, SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal, however, said that the commission would not be pressed to give the nod when the requirements of the Land Public Transport Act were not met.