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New DMU train by January
Published on: Sunday, July 10, 2016
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Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah State Railways will be receiving a new DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) train funded by the State Government (cost around RM8 million) at the end of November and is expected to be in operation latest by next January to replace the old train used mostly between Beaufort and Tenom, to minimise cancellations.The Federal Government has approved to procure three new DMUs to replace ageing vehicles and are due for delivery by early 2018, and to upgrade the rail line from Halogilat and Tenom starting this year at a cost of RM99.5 million.

"We acquired a renovated railbus for the Tanjung Aru and Beaufort route and is ready for use at any time; the vehicle has a 90-passenger capacity including for standing. Our two other rail buses currently in use can only accommodate 40 persons," said General Manager Melvin V. Majanga.

The management has five-year and 20-year strategic plans to develop railway as a public transport of choice by 2030 with focus on human asset development and encouraging the right mental attitude for all its staff throughout the network's 14 stations.

Majanga said: "The department's motto, 'Moving Towards Change', was derived from our goal to upskill our workforce.

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.

"The department is working with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) and the Skills Development Department at 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.

Statistics indicate passenger numbers reached 585,772 and 505,651 in 2014 and 2015 respectively with Beaufort, Papar, Tanjung Aru and Tenom registering the highest ridership.

He said construction of the new headquarters and rebuilding of the main railway station in Tanjung Aru by developer SP Setia Berhad, launched as part of the Aeropod mixed commercial development project in 2012 is currently ongoing.

Majanga said the Railway Department was currently in the process of revising its Railway Ordinance Cap 116 and Railway (Traffic Book) Rules 1979 in keeping with the Tanjung Aru station and headquarters' development and to streamline services.

He said one of the department's main concerns was public safety at train tracks and warned pedestrians and vehicles against crossing rail lines illegally to avoid accidents.

"Road users must be mindful of rail infrastructure, particularly level crossings on the Tenom and Beaufort stretch, and not to ignore warning signals; we see many incidents of trespassing along settlement areas from Tanjung Aru to Beaufort and Beaufort to Tenom," he said.

Majanga said in trying to fulfil its commitment and obligations, the Railway Department was faced with a number of constraints and weather-related "out-of-control events".

An ageing fleet of trains, rail track conditions and natural disasters from landslides and floods to soil erosion has led to regular train service cancellations.

The latest figures from the department show a total of 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. Services from Beaufort to Tenom often have had to be cancelled due to train conditions and technical issues," Majanga said.

"It is a challenge for us to keep a regular timetable with heavy rains and floods happening unexpectedly during the year, which is out of our control.

Whenever the lines are flooded, we need to inspect for flaws, do repair work or replace defective slippers to make sure the tracks are safe.

"It can be frustrating for passengers and they are usually given at least an hour's notice for cancellation of services or are advised to find alternative transport, we also offer compensation for tickets sold," he said.


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