Recent developments in railway atmosphere in Malaysia have enabled greater access to rail transportation, thanks to mega projects such as the Electrified Double Tracking Project (EDTP). Recently the government announced that EDTP will be extended to Johor Bahru. As of now, EDTP between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh is already in use. For Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch, EDTP is still in construction.
Newer technologies require new set of skills to be maintained. This is evident in Malaysia’s reliance towards foreign engineers in handling its sophisticated train system, such as the ones from United Kingdom. The usage of manpower from overseas is very expensive but it has to take place due to lack of engineers in Malaysian train industry.
Manpower is one of the problem that surfaces alongside recent development in railway industry. Other than that, we are also facing other problems such as rolling stock procurement and also the reliability of current rail tracks. The tracks need to be more durable and less subjected to failures, especially along routes usually taken by freight trains.
Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said a lack of manpower in the sector resulted in Malaysia using the services of foreign engineers, such as those from the United Kingdom, to smoothen tasks involving the use of new technologies in the train system.
New business model is being proposed for KTMB Freight, the most profitable division in KTM Berhad as reported by Bernama.
The proposal, made by railway workers union, is championing the cause of rejecting Malaysian Mining Corporation (MMC)’s bid to invest up to RM 1 billion in KTMB Freight division. The main concern is if MMC takes over KTMB and suffer losses, employees would lose the benefits the they are currently enjoying such as bonuses, allowances, quarters and healthcare. Their proposal is to allow other private operators to use KTMB existing rail lines with their own rolling stock.
We think the step to attract private operators to use KTMB existing railroad network and paying tolls directly to KTMB will generate added revenue. Furthermore, the major constraint suffered by KTMB now is the limited number of rolling stock. In our opinion, we think the government should invest more in KTMB by providing them with reasonable number of rolling stock, in line with the ongoing double tracking project. KTMB’s current market share in cargo shipment of the country is really low with just about two to five percent.
With the promising progress of the double tracking project, we hope that KTMB will invest more on its cargo as well as passenger sector. This move will enable a more profitable KTMB and fulfilling the needs of commuters and commercial sectors.