BEING FRANK: When things go wrong, they apologise

As published in Malay Mail today

By Frankie D'Cruz

AS a light rail transit (LRT) commuter, you kind of hang your head when your regular mode of public transport becomes a safety issue. 

You despair knowing five brake failures since February, two last week, had occurred and that the operator, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, has been having problems getting the train and brake manufacturers to deal with the problem.

Still, that’s your only way around and the potential danger sinks in when you board the four-car trains. Imagine being told you will likely suffer a heart attack, yet not how big or how serious it will be.

The brake failure problem had been highlighted since February by Prasarana to the train and brake manufacturers with no effect. 

It has been simply put down to a design issue by Canadian train company Bombardier and the German braking system manufacturer Knorr-Bremse AG. 

No manufacturer would want a tragedy on their hand, but complacency by the two foreign firms seems to grip this overwhelming problem.

It means nothing to the commuter when an apology by Rapid KL — the operator of the KL-Kelana Jaya Line LRT service — is followed by: “While working for a long-term solution, our engineers have been attending to the brake calipers of the existing 35 four-car trains and replacing the brake seals.” 

It merely strikes fear because as they say: “This is, however, only a containment measure while Bombardier and Knorr-Bremse AG come out with a permanent solution.”

Commuters have been given the assurance that their safety would never be compromised and that additional roving technicians have been deployed to ensure swift response in the event of an emergency. 

That’s supposed to please them?

Even if contracts with Bombardier and Knorr-Bremse AG were terminated, it means nothing to the commuter. What’s important is providing a convenient service that rides with a guarantee no harm will come to commuters. 

The Land Public Transport Commission, the licensing and safety regulator, has to make certain this worrisome safety issue is overcome urgently. 

The prime minister, shocked by the incidents last week at the Setiawangsa and Universiti LRT stations, has called for an immediate safety audit.

It’s distressing that public confidence in the LRT has waned following the latest incidents. It’s disheartening that the running of the LRT is wanting.

Frankie is editor emeritus of Malay Mail. He can be reached at and Twitter: @dcruzfrankie


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