KTM to halve train intervals by 2019; upgrades to cause delays now

(From left) KTM Berhad general manager of operations S. Mahendran, KTM Berhad general manager Azshidah Shah Shahari, KTM Berhad’s project division general manager Ismail Said and Klang Valley Double Track project contractor Dhaya Maju Infrastructure (Asia) Sdn Bhd's project director Datuk Mohamad Nor Idrus. ― Picture by Ida Lim
(From left) KTM Berhad general manager of operations S. Mahendran, KTM Berhad general manager Azshidah Shah Shahari, KTM Berhad’s project division general manager Ismail Said and Klang Valley Double Track project contractor Dhaya Maju Infrastructure (Asia) Sdn Bhd's project director Datuk Mohamad Nor Idrus. ― Picture by Ida Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 ― By 2019, the thousands of commuters who rely daily on Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) train services can expect waiting time to be reduced by half from the current 15 minutes to just 7.5 minutes.

In the interim, however, KTMB said today that it will roll out a new timetable this Friday that will see longer queues for trains for the next four years, with wait times expected to double or more in areas with fewer riders and during off-peak hours.

KTMB project division general manager Ismail Said explained that this is to facilitate upgrading works along the existing Klang Valley double-tracks aimed at achieving the new 7.5-minute frequency.

“This project outcome is to achieve headway or frequency of every 7.5 minutes, which can be categorised as 'Metro' standard, like the LRT or the upcoming MRT.

“For the 'Metro' standard, the frequency is around 3.5 minutes, but we cannot achieve that. The maximum we can go to is 7.5 minutes,” he told the media in a briefing on the Klang Valley Double Track (KVDT) project.

By 2019, KTM Berhad is also targeting to increase the passenger per hour per direction from 1,000 to 6,000, as well as to boost the daily ridership from 117,800 to 250,000, he said.

KTMB general manager of operations S. Mahendran confirmed that the 7.5-minute frequency will only be achievable when the entire project is completed in 2019.

The new timetable this Friday will see train intervals at the Seremban-Batu Caves route increased both ways from 15 minutes to 45 minutes during weekends and public holidays and off-peak hours on weekdays.

Riders using the Sungai Buloh-Pelabuhan Klang route will see 45-minute intervals for both ways during off peak hours of 9am to 4pm and 8pm to 12.30am on weekdays.

The waiting time on weekdays for the Tanjung Malim-Pelabuhan Klang route, on the other hand, will be 30 minutes during the morning peak hours of 5.30am to 9pm, while the reverse direction during the same period will see an interval of 30 or 60 minutes, with the remaining hours for both ways to have a 60-minute interval.

On weekends and public holidays, the Tanjung Malim-KL Sentral route will have one-hour intervals for both ways, while the KL Sentral-Pelabuhan Klang route will have 45-minute intervals for both ways.

The upgrading works is also expected to affect the timetable for other train services, namely the KTM Intercity, ETS and KTM Cargo, along the Tanjung Malim-Rawang-Pelabuhan Klang route.

The lower frequency is necessary to allow for scheduled shutting down of tracks to carry out various works under the RM1.41 billion project, such as the laying of new tracks that will be easier to maintain, Ismail said.

Ismail said the project slated for completion on November 1, 2019 will also involve the replacement of 20-year-old signalling equipment with the latest technology to reduce theft for scrap metal and service disruption, installation of radio systems throughout the entire length of KTM Berhad's tracks in Peninsular Malaysia, upgrading of 16 KTM Komuter stations and a new feeder station in Sentul for generation of more electricity to increase train frequencies.

KTMB general manager Azshidah Shah Shahari said the new timetable will be in force for the next four years until the end of the upgrading works.

Azshidah said the company does not expect “much problem” to arise as a result of the reduced intervals, noting that the public has been notified of the upgrading project as early as last month.

“But even then we are prepared for any contingency that may happen,” she said.

According to KTM Berhad, commuters can also opt to use local buses that service the Rawang-Medan Pasar route every 10 minutes at a rate of RM3.70 one-way or the Bus Expressway Transit at the same rate for Bandar Tasik Puteri/Rawang Country Homes-Medan Pasar. 

Azshidah also gave the assurance that the KTM Komuter fare will not be increased after the upgrading works are completed.