Rationalise fare categories

IT is heartening to know that Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) ETS (Electric Train Service) is popular among travellers. According to its CEO, 3.91 million people used the service in 2018, and up to July this year, it carried 2.15 million passengers. KTM is now in the black financially, said the CEO.

However, the current management does not seem to be aware of what is happening on the ground, where commuters have had to put up with delays on a regular basis over the past four years due to rehabilitation of the tracks which shows no sign of being completed. What is the rationale in introducing the business class at this stage when service by the current platinum and gold standard trains leaves much to be desired?

There were some advantages in using the platinum service in terms of time, number of stops and complimentary token. However, all these have been compromised. The arrival time has been systematically extended repeatedly and delays are the norm. More stops have been introduced so much so that the difference in arrival time between the platinum and gold service is just three minutes although the fare differs by RM10.

If one compares KTMB’s silver service with the platinum service, the difference in time is eight minutes but the fare differs by RM21 (based on Oct 11 schedule for the ES9051, EG9037 and EP9201 from Ipoh to KL Sentral). The seats are identical and not meant for long distance travel from Gemas to Padang Besar. Legroom for some seats is so restricted that it is quite awkward for ladies and strangers to sit comfortably together. Legroom for seats at the end of some coaches is also limited.

In the current situation, KTMB needs to look at the rationale for the classification of the platinum and gold services. Classifying them as silver and gold class would make better sense.

Passengers travelling between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur have the choice of using the silver service at a cheaper fare, but other destinations are denied this lower fare alternative.

Incidentally, the frequency of the silver service has been reduced to once only in each direction.

The waiting enclosure at KL Sentral is pathetic and gets worse whenever there is a delay. At such times, even the elderly and invalid would have to stand due to overcrowding.

KTMB staff both in the train and on the ground are not adequately trained to handle the overcrowding and crisis situations. This was evident recently when a derailment occurred; neither the crew on the train nor those on the ground had any idea of the seriousness of the situation beyond saying there was a delay and they were waiting for further instruction. The megaphone announcement was very poorly delivered and some members of the staff became irritated when asked for further clarification. This points to poor coordination in dissemination of information between the administration, train crew and front line staff. One also wonders why the LCD displays are not used effectively during such situations.

KTMB should know that prior to the introduction of the ETS, there were train services to smaller towns. These were discontinued for many stops after the introduction of ETS, to the dismay of many travellers. The commuter train, which is cheaper for the average wage earners, offers no connectivity from Tanjong Malim to Padang Rengas, but this facility is rendered for commuters from Padang Rengas to Padang Besar and from KL Sentral to Tanjong Malim. KTMB needs to bridge these gaps as a priority for low wage earners, regular weekend and average income commuters who work in KL and who find the ETS fare too expensive and the tickets sold out most of the time.

Until and unless these issues are solved, there is no need to direct more assets and manpower to the business class. Instead, KTMB should direct its attention towards the current pricing mechanism, classification of service and connectivity as a priority.



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letters , KTM , Electric Train Service


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