KTMB should follow right train of thought

By Iqbal Abdullah in

This was an email I sent to The Star on Christmas Day 2009 about how terrible KTMB Komuter service was. I was pretty pissed at that time. I don't understand how KTMB cannot understand this very simple thing on providing a decent service to it's customers.

After I sent the email, I got a call from The Star while I was in Jaya Jusco in Malacca and the person wanted to confirm that what I wrote about KTMB's aim of getting MYR1 profit was correct before they published it.

ON DEC 12, I took KTM’s Ekspres Sinaran Pagi from KL Sentral bound for Singapore, which was originally scheduled to depart at 8.30am.

While I waited at the terminal, the departure time was rescheduled to 8.40am and again to 8.55am. The train finally departed at 9am, and we reached Singapore one hour later than the scheduled time.

For the KTM Komuter from Mid Valley to Seremban (Rawang-Seremban route) on Dec 22, we waited from 9.10pm and the train arrived only at 9.40pm. We finally reached Seremban at around 11pm.

KTMB customers waiting at the Mid Valley station resigned themselves to the waiting, and some even opened up their work on the cement floor and tried to get something done.

The electronic signs at the platform were confusing and did not show correct information. We were not notified the reason for the delays.

Certain passengers were inconsiderate, refusing to allow passengers to alight first before boarding, pushing ahead with their big backpacks, having their handphone ringtones on full volume and refusing to give up their seats for a blind mother and child who boarded in Serdang.

The experience of taking the Komuter from Mid Valley to Seremban has left me tired. I felt I have grown older by 10 years and my will to live has gone.

There are two points that I wish to share with KTMB:

  1. In today’s economy, KTMB must realise that it is not an operator of railways. It must realise that it is a service provider, not much different from taxis or retail outlets. It just so happens that the service provider called KTMB is providing its service through railways.

  2. The money is in transporting people, not goods. If KTMB truly wishes to reach its stated target of even RM1 profit, stay there or even go beyond that, it has to understand that the service of transporting people, in a timely and comfortable manner, will be the single most important revenue provider.

These are important concepts that everyone in KTMB must realise and understand, from the CEO down to the person maintaining the ticket machines at the stations.

From a layman’s point of view KTMB has great potential.

With highways being built every day and airline flights getting cheaper, it is more important than ever that KTMB realise its potential as a service provider, and the strength that its assets hold. KTMB owns tracks and stations which are not affected by traffic yet that go direct to the heart of towns.

Malaysia will change like other developed nations, where more and more people commute to work from out-of-state into Kuala Lumpur. We see this happening right here and now, and it is inevitable.

There are too many cars on the roads and everyone is tired of traffic jams in the city.

Everything is in place that will allow KTMB to be the leading transportation service provider. All that KTMB needs to do is to leverage these assets and by being reliable and punctual.

To be reliable and on time do not require KTMB to change its rolling stock immediately, nor does it require it to send its staff to Tokyo to study how JR (Japan Railways Group) does its job. All KTMB has to do is ride its own trains and make notes of what it’s doing right and what it’s doing wrong, and then fix them.

IQBAL ABDULLAH, Petaling Jaya.