KOTA KINABALU: Escalating fuel prices are prompting Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) to seek government approval for a 50% increase in freight tariffs.
KTMB managing director Datuk Mohd Salleh Abdullah said it was difficult for the rail company to continue charging the existing tariffs, which had not been revised since 1992.
Two years ago, the price of diesel was 78 sen per litre, now it's RM1.60. We need to balance our books, he said after the opening of the 26th annual conference between KTMB and State Railway of Thailand (SRT) officials here yesterday.
Mohd Salleh said the top agenda item of the two-day meeting between KTMB and SRT officials would be discussions on how to cope with higher fuel prices.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Abu Bakar, who earlier opened the conference, was non-committal about the governments decision on KTMBs proposed tariff increase but noted that as a private concern, KTMB should not be made to absorb the increased operating costs involving items such as fuel.
We need to watch the situation closely. If oil prices touch the US$100 (RM377) level, surely we cant leave things as they are, he said, adding that adjustments would have to be made for KTMBs operations to remain viable.
Tengku Azlan earlier told the conference participants that the Government was formulating plans to emphasise on greater use of rail services as an integral part of the nations public transport policy.
More priority would be placed on shifting the transport of bulk and heavy cargo from road to rail.
Moving mass transit volumes from ports to inland rail freight terminals presents considerable opportunities for KTMB to expand its scope of services, he added.
Tengku Azlan said KTMB would be expanding its KTM Komuter service from Sentul to Batu Caves.
He said the completion of the double-tracking project from Rawang would also see faster travel times between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.