October 31, 2011
KTMB hurt by Move to Woodlands
by Sim Bak Heng (10-30-11)
Checks showed the company has incurred an average monthly loss of RM1.8 million since July as a result of a decline of between 20 and 30 per cent of passengers using train services to the republic.
KTMB believes most of its customers are instead opting to travel to the republic by express buses, and some by planes, as the Woodlands station is not quite convenient for travellers.
There are seven train services to Singapore daily, and all services stop at the Woodlands checkpoint.All the trains will make a brief stop at JB Sentral before moving towards Woodlands, which is about one kilometre away.
Industry sources said it is economically not viable to have two stations located too near to each other, more so when both are located near the border of two different countries using different currencies.
In the case of Woodlands, alighting passengers who turned to other modes of transport to reach their destination will have to pay for their fare in Singapore dollars. For those who travel to the republic by express bus, the problem does not arise.
KTMB president Dr Aminuddin Adnan told the New Sunday Times that there are no plans to stop all seven trips to Woodlands despite the losses. “It is too early to conclude the whole picture. We will wait and see before planning the next course of action.Our customers are basically from the middle-income bracket. We believe those who have abandoned our service are those who do not want any inconvenience throughout their journey, especially when they reach Singapore.”
The Tanjong Pagar station became part of KTMB’s history following the departure of the last train piloted by the Sultan of Johor at 11.03pm on June 30.
Dr Aminuddin said KTMB is trying to offset the losses by capitalising on the Johor Baru market. It plans to introduce an additional train service from Tumpat to Johor Baru from next January.
Called the Malayan Tiger, the 14-coach service is believed to be an impetus for the tourism industry in Johor in view that more tourism products are coming up in Iskandar Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Dr Aminuddin said the stripping of the 23km railway track from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands had been completed. He said the track weighed a total of about 2,500 tonnes, of which about 70 per cent had been transported back to Malaysia.
The rest, which was still being placed at a temporary storage area in Kranji, will be sent back to the country by the middle of next month.
“We are now demolishing all the locomotive shades and depots and we hope to complete the work by December 22,” he added.
It was reported that part of the track would be showcased in KTMB museums as a historical exhibit while others would be kept for future use on KTMB tracks throughout the country. The first museum to display part of the track is the former Johor Baru railway station, which will be turned into a museum soon.