Is train service still safe?

Written by: Bernama | 27 May 2021 09:26
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Written by:
27 May 2021 09:26

Its systematic, efficient and fast service has made the Light Rail Transit (LRT) the main choice of public transport among city dwellers in the Klang Valley since more than two decades ago.

Highly trusted by consumers for its service since it began operation 23 years ago, the Monday two-train collision on the LRT Kelana Jaya Line at KLCC, was a shock.

Of the 213 passengers on the train, 47 were seriously injured, while 166 were treated for light injuries. The mishap has scratched the “zero” accident record of the LRT service so far.

Nevertheless, it made the public realise that mishap could happen anywhere, even when it comes to LRT service, which is considered the safest. However, based on accident statistics involving land transport system, rail transport services, like the LRT, are much safer.

This can be seen based on the statistics on road accidents in 2019, where a total of 567,516 accident cases were reported and involved 6,167 deaths, meaning a loss of life every 85 minutes.

This happened because the road is used by various types of vehicles and moving at different speed, which pose a high risk of accidents, according to a professor at the Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr Kulanthayan KC Mani.

Unlike the rail system, he said, it is only used by trains which move at almost the same speed.

“If we look at the statistics on road accidents and compare with rail accidents, it is clear, the number of rail accidents is very low, not only in our country, but worldwide.

“As such, the rail transport system remains the safest medium of transport, not only in Malaysia but also globally,” he told Bernama.

The professor, who is also a road safety expert, explained that the rail transport system has several safety layers, making the system very safe, especially to carry a large number of passengers at one time.

“Accidents rarely happen because the rail transport system is also controlled from the control room of the provider of the rail service system. It is a surprise when the train crash happened recently.

“Therefore, a full investigation of this incident needs to be done to understand where the error occurred and how it can be avoided in the future,” he said.

The view was shared by the Head of the Industry Network and Corporate Communications, Malaysian Institute of Transport, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Dr Irwan Ibrahim, who said that various factors can lead to train accidents.

Studies showed that 90 percent of train accidents are due to the negligence of inefficient transport operators, fatigue or deliberately disobeying rules and instructions, he said.

Thus, in an effort to reduce train accidents, he said, train safety technology and customer safety procedures should be improved and this includes new safety technologies such as platform door control to prevent accident that involves human lives.

He said the management of the train operators should also explore new train technologies such as friction transformers to reduce train friction in the event of an accident, hence minimising the impact of the accident.

“Many new technologies can be explored to further improve the level of safety that will help reduce the accident rate involving trains, such as derail coefficient monitoring and air suspension balance control, new 'bogie' structure, active suspension and VVVF drive.

“Other technologies that can be considered are track systems and maintenance technologies such as concrete beds, ‘slab’ tracks, and more up -to -date maintenance technologies,” he added.

In this situation, what is practiced in Japan will remain the best example for a fast and safe train management. – Bernama

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