KUALA LUMPUR: The Kelana Jaya Light Rail Transit (LRT) line has returned to full service following the conclusion of repair works on the tracks damaged by a head-on collision on Monday (May 24), Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said.
"I wish to announce that recovery works have been done up to the Public Land Transport Agency's (APAD) strict requirement levels, that I can announce that the train service, which was previously forced to use a single track due to the incident, can resume operations on dual track," he said in a press conference at the KLCC station on Friday (May 28).
A head-on collision involving two trains on Monday had left more than 210 passengers injured. Trains were subsequently running on a single track in seven stations in downtown Kuala Lumpur as recovery and repairs were being carried out.
Dr Wee had said on Tuesday that driver negligence was the cause of the accident. He later clarified that human error was just a single facet of the investigation into why the incident occurred.
The two trains involved in the collision have been successfully retrieved on Thursday. On Friday, APAD director-general Azlan Shah Al Bakri issued a letter to reopen the affected stretch of the Kelana Jaya line at 3pm.
In his Friday press conference, Dr Wee said there is no reason to stop the crash victims from taking legal action.
"Malaysia is a democratic country, and any legal action following the law cannot be avoided.
"We will face it. I leave it to Prasarana. This is a normal thing, everyone has their rights," he said.
Longer waiting times due to modified train frequency was the main grouse of frequent LRT users following the Monday accident, which was the first in the LRT's 23 years of operations.
The situation was compounded by a 50 per cent capacity reduction on trains and buses, as mandated by the movement control order.
Some passengers were also worried about their safety.
Hemarajan Balakrishnan, 31, who works in a convenience store in the city centre and stays in the northern part of Kuala Lumpur, said two of his colleagues were on the train when the incident happened.
“Usually I finish my shift at 8pm, but on Monday, I stopped at 3pm, so that was very lucky.
“Today’s the first time I’m taking the train from this station today, because I am worried too,” he said.
Mr Hemarajan said after the accident, some of his friends would get off a few stations before KLCC and take an intra-city bus to get to work.
“Many of them are afraid to use the train already,” he said.
CREATE A PUBLIC TRANSPORT OMBUDSMAN: NGO
Following the collision, non-governmental organisation Malaysian Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) has called for the establishment of a public transport ombudsman.
“This is way overdue. The increased usage of public transport is bound to bring new challenges for operators and users, and this position’s role would be to ensure public transport users’ rights, safety and security are not compromised,” 4PAM president Ajit Johl told CNA.
He said that in the recent years, almost every public transport mode from ride shares to buses and trains had suffered incidents, and often enough the driver gets blamed while the upper management "walks away scot-free".
Mr Ajit called for the directors of public transport operators to be held accountable for incidents similar to how Malaysia’s Securities Commission penalised the directors of public-listed companies.
“To date, nobody really knows if the victims’ next-of-kin were adequately compensated,” he added.
Mr Ridza Abdoh Salleh, the former first chief executive officer of Prasarana (the parent company of LRT operator Rapid Rail), said the accident is a wake-up call for the industry.
“Luckily, there were no fatalities this round, but it is still a wake-up call, not just for Prasarana, but for the other rail operators, to revisit our procedures, our management philosophy, and we can prevent a bigger disaster from happening down the road," he told CNA.
Commenting on driver negligence being one of the facets of investigation, Mr Ridza said human fallibility cannot be blamed on just the driver as he would be in constant communication with the operations control centre.
"The driver would be constantly radioing his direction, because the train is now in manual mode, the mimic panel in the centre cannot track it anymore because the automatic mode is off,” he explained.
“So another question for the investigation panel might look at is why did the control centre not realise the train was going in the wrong direction?” the former CEO said.