Thursday, November 12, 2009

EMUs, DMUs'...and they think our heads are stuck in the hole?

Sheeesh. Sometimes really feel like MOT (read : the government) is taking us for another ride. Are they thinking that consumers are like emus (or ostriches)? Are they still looking at consumers like emus with their heads in the holes and unable to see through the smokescreen?

  1. Ministry of Transportation (MOT) termed it as clarifying a media report on the purchase of used DMUs'.
  2. It all started harmless enough when several BN backbenchers called for MACC probe into DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) decision. Their rationale for the probe :-

    • Malaysia bought the 4 20-year old DMU trains for a total of RM 30 million whilst Argentina and Costa Rica bought it at a third of the price;
    • The purchase is opposed by KTMB board;
    • Bought broken down things at higher price than other countries;
    • Did not follow specifications and regulations;
    • the top speed for DMUs' is only 80 kph compared to KTMB other trains that can attain 90 kph;
    • the aim of double tracking project is to accommodate high speed trains of up to 120 kph;
    • purchase of DMU's after KTMB has decided to switch to EMU trains(Electric multiple units);
    • is KTMB ready to maintain the 4 DMUs;

  3. In MOT's clarification, MOT partly replied :-

    • Issues raised was not accurate;
    • the cost is EURO 1.492 million (RM 7.57M) for 2 passenger coach units compared to EURO 2.0 million (RM 10.15M) paid by Costa Rica for similar units;
    • purchase of used-DMUs' was to overcome shortage of trains for commuter service in the Klang valley;

  4. Let's do some 2+2 analysis together :-

    • There is no discrepancy in purchase price. MOT (read : Government)/KTMB bought the 4 DMU trains for a total of RM 30.2M;
    • KTMB runs on metre gauge track whilst Costa Rica runs on narrow gauge. For the uninitiated, that means KTMB's track is 1000 mm wide whilst Costa Rica track is 1067 mm wide. How can MOT consider this as similar? How can you compare a 1 ton truck to a 5 ton truck?;
    • If the purchase is opposed by KTMB board, then who approve the purchase? MOT or MOF or DOR (Department of Railway)? It has been long said that KTMB is only the end-user of the rail services whilst all assets belongs to DOR. And if MOT is the one who do the purchasing, who advises MOT whether this is a feasible and good purchase? Is it done by open tender or by way of negotiated proposal? Did the purchaser (MOT/MOF/DOR/KTMB) express their intention to purchase used-DMUs' and invite interested parties to submit their proposals? If not, why not?;
    • It is a serious matter when the backbenchers termed the used-DMUs as broken down things. What drives them to say so? How broken is broken? Do the DMUs' needs major repairs? Do they need to be re-fitted? If they do, who do the re-fitment - the seller or the purchaser?
    • it is also equally serious when the backbenchers claim that it does not follow specifications and regulations. Whose specifications and whose regulations? How does one expects for specifications to be fulfilled if one buys a used-product?
    • the DMU top speed is 80 kph. Looking at the existing stations interval, how do you accelerate to more than 80 kph before slowing down and gradually stopping at the next station (normal interval of 5 minutes?). Wouldn't it be straining to the engine to be revved up for maximum speed then braking for stop at next station? What about wear and tear? Given the circumstances, one has to make do with 80 kph trains for short distance travelling;
    • although the double tracking project is to accomodate to high speed trains, but as mentioned earlier the wear and tear factor should also be taken into account. KTMB can use high speed trains for express EMUs covering KL-Ipoh sector, Seremban-KL-Ipoh sector. As for the rest, normal EMUs (existing stock) can meet the demands;
    • is KTMB ready to maintain the 4 DMUs? That is a good question. Is KTMB ready? Where will the depot be? What about the spares and parts? Is these the first DMUs maintained by KTMB? Will the maintenance crew fully utilisised by just 4 DMUs? What about the failure rate (record from seller?);

  5. Let's go a step further. Since this scribe is nocturnal, by nature, some bats echoes concern on :-

    • Initially there were a total of 60 EMUs' available for KTMB. After some years of operation, some of these EMUs' were write off and victims of cannibalism (KTMB do practise cannabalism (on parts), don't they?), only around 30EMUs' are service worthy. What are the plans for the 30 or so stranded EMUs'? Will MOT/DOR/KTMB write them off?;
    • in one of the first visits by the present Transport Minister, he promised that the company engaged to rehabilitate the EMUs' will complete the works on time. What happens? Mr Minister, sir - is the works completed? If not, what are the actions taken against the contractor? If yes, why did KTMB has to resort to changing the komuter schedule?
    • talking about the komuter schedule, initially the service interval is every 15 minutes. Then, due to the frequent delays and technical glitches (read : no EMUs'), the service interval is re-timed for every 20 minutes (that was a few months back). Now, it is believed to be every 30 minutes. Is this what they call as "people first, performance now"?
    • again, stretching on the service intervals, somebody in KTMB is not sensitive to consumer needs. Just imagine - they have shuttle service from Port Klang to KL Sentral in the morning BUT the shuttle service in the evening is from KL Station to Shah Alam only. What is the rationale behind this?
    • on the "early bird" service from Port Klang to Sentul, the new time-table indicated that the first train departs Port Klang at 5:35 am. The next train (happens to be shuttle train) departs from Jalan Kastam at 5:54 am. The third train (normal) is at 6:05 am. How insensitive of KTMB! Don't they know that the "Subuh" azan is at approximately 5:45 am? How do you expert Muslims at Port Klang to catch the first train or the second train out? As a remedy, may this sribe propose that (if KTMB needs to keep to the timing/scheduling), to re-category the first 3 trains out start from Port Klang on normal stops? This will take care of all the passengers at all stops/stations from Port Klang to board this early trains. KTMB can then start the "shuttle service" from 6:30 am onwards. The same goes for other sectors as well. If the planners do not know how to kowtim this, they can always call on the transport planners to help out. If they cannot find the planners, komuter consumers are willing to help out;
    • why buy 4 DMUs'? Will these 4 DMUs' solve the problem? Or is this an ad-hoc decision to capitalise on 1MPM6's Najib's first stimulus package? By logic (using Mydin analogy), the more you buy, the cheaper is the unit price. Maybe buying 8 DMUs' will be cheaper (unit price) than buying 4 DMUs'. Why 8? It is believed that there are 17 available used-DMUs for sale. Buying 8 (or 50 %) will give MOT/DOR/KTMB a better deal as well as give the end-users the option to choose the used-DMUs'. We don't want MOT/DOR/KTMB to buy scrap iron, do we?;
    • What are the terms of S & P? Does it cover shipping them to Malaysia? Is it FCA, FOB, FAS, FIO, "as is where is" condition? This is important too because it might cost MOT/DOR/KTMB another RM 1M for shipping the used-DMUs' to Malaysia.
    • if we were to literally take MOT's clarification, then the 4 used-DMUs are meant for Klang valley sector. Geographically, does that mean these 4 used-DMUs are purchased to serve Sentul-Port Klang sector?
    • on the age of used-DMUs - it is also mentioned that the DMUs' are 20 years old. Can someone clarify - are these engines enviromental-friendly ie green engines? If yes, fine. If not, are non-enviromental-friendly engines acceptable? We are already facing the smog and smoke- will these DMUs contribute more smog significantly? Do these engines have spare parts available? Are these engines still in production or obsolete? If obsolete, then what are the guarantee given on their performance and lifetime?
    • back to the maintenance crew. Is this a ploy for the seller (or agent) to milk more money from KTMB? Does the purchase agreement include maintenance service/coverage? If not, why? Who will do the maintenance? Are the spare parts available in the market or is it monopolise by the seller?
    • by the way - are these engines tropicalised ie made to bear our heat and humidity? We don't want an eskimo getting burnt in the equatorial belt, do we?
    • it is also believed that KTMB sentul depot is getting smaller by the day, no thanks to YTL's ambitous Sentul east/west project. Where is the depot for these DMUs'? Sentul is too small and congested now. Tg Malim is not in Klang valley. Anyone has an inkling?
    • who is the supplier/Malaysian agent of this used-DMUs'? What is their track record? Are they punctual in delivery? Are they technically capable? Are they reliable?
    • Is the DMU manufacturer still operating? We don't want another case of closed-down manufacturing plant like that of existing komuter, do we?

  6. Sheeesh. Sometimes really feel like MOT (read : the government) is taking us for another ride. Are they thinking that consumers are like emus (or ostriches)? Are they still looking at consumers like emus with their heads in the holes and unable to see through the smokescreen?
  7. Kudos to the backbenchers who raise the questions on DMUs'. No doubt MOT reply the queries but the answers are vague. An answer is not an answer until it has satisfactorily explain and lay down all the bare facts. Answering for the sake of answering is pure rubbish.
  8. Hoping that MOT will come up with better and more comprehensive answers. In short, Mr Minister sir, please do your homework unless you want us to give you an F (failing grade) and kick your butts off in GE 13.
Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...

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