KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah State Railway Department’s new motto ‘Moving Towards Change’ is geared towards creating a skilled workforce to deliver better services to the public in addition to upgrading its infrastructure and facilities.
“To move towards real change, there need to be a change of mindset in employees and a positive attitude to improve one’s knowledge and skills,” said its general manager Melvin V. Majanga.
The department is working with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd and the Human Resource Ministry to provide training for technical and station staff on new methods of operations, ticketing, track maintenance and other areas related to operations and services, he said.
He said construction of the new headquarters and rebuilding of the main railway station in Tanjung Aru by developer SP Setia Bhd, launched as part of the Aeropod mixed commercial development project in 2012, is currently ongoing.
Among the constraints the department faces are an aging fleet of trains, rail track conditions and weather-related ‘out-of-control events’ such as landslides, floods and soil erosion.This has led to train service cancellations with figures showing that 791 out of 7,311 train services were cancelled in 2014 and 762 out of 6,942 services last year, with disruptions commonly affecting schedules from Beaufort to Tenom.
"Four of our diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains running the Beaufort-Halogilat and Halogilat-Tenom routes are at least 35 years old,” Majanga said.
The department would be receiving a new DMU train funded by the state government at the end of November which is expected to be in operation by next January at the latest to replace the old train used mostly between Beaufort and Tenom.
The Federal Government, said Majanga, has approved the purchase of three new DMUs which are due for delivery by early 2018, and to upgrading the rail line from Halogilat and Tenom starting this year at a cost of RM99.5mil.
“We acquired a renovated railbus for the Tanjung Aru and Beaufort route which has a 90-passenger capacity including standing room. Our two other rail buses currently in use can only accommodate 40 people," he said.
The management has five-year and 20-year strategic plans to make rail travel a public transport option of choice by 2030 with a focus on human resource development for its staff throughout the network’s 14 stations.
Statistics indicate passenger numbers were 585,772 and 505,651 in 2014 and 2015 respectively with Beaufort, Papar, Tanjung Aru and Tenom registering the highest ridership.
Majanga also warned pedestrians and vehicles against crossing rail lines illegally.
“We see many incidents of trespassing along settlement areas from Tanjung Aru to Beaufort and Beaufort to Tenom,” he said. – Bernama