KTMB set to lose RM100 million without more cargo trains, warns union

Noel Achariam

Cargo services are the sole revenue maker for KTMB during the coronavirus pandemic, earning the rail operator RM11 million a month. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, March 2, 2021.

KERETAPI Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) stands to lose more than RM100 million this year if it doesn’t get more cargo trains.

Railwaymen Union of Malaysia secretary-general R. Subramaniam said its revenue fell 90% during the first movement-control order (MCO) last year.

KTMB remained in the red even after the movement restrictions were eased under the conditional and recovery phases of the MCO, he said.

“With MCO 2.0, our losses have gone up 90%. This is because fewer cargo trains are operational and the passenger loads have dropped because of MCO restrictions.”

Subramaniam said cargo services are currently the sole revenue generator, earning RM11million per month which does not even cover salaries and operational costs.

“KTMB has to pay RM25.3 million in salaries for 6,000 workers per month.

“We are only generating RM11 million in revenue per month. We are only able to pay salaries because of funding from the Finance Ministry, which makes up the difference.”

According to the auditor-general’s report, KTMB’s accumulated losses were RM2.83 billion as of 2018.

The audit found that inter-city and commuter train services recorded losses of between RM40 million and RM77.8 million between 2016 and July 2018.

KTMB currently has 28 cargo trains, 12 electric service trains and 18 six-car trains in operation.

Railwaymen Union of Malaysia secretary-general R. Subramaniam says KTMB should either lease cargo trains from other countries or get a bank loan to buy more. – The Malaysian Insight pic, March 2, 2021.

Subramaniam said passenger traffic dropped by 60% in the last six months and by up to 90% during MCO 2.0.

“This is because there is no inter-state travel.”

The double track from Johor to Padang Besar is only 30% utilised.

This, he said, was because there aren’t enough cargo trains.

“Cargo trains can make about RM11 million a month. If we can get more trains then we can generate more than RM11million.

“We have requested for more trains since 2017 but have yet to receive any.”

Subramaniam hopes the Finance and Transport Ministries and the KTMB board will consider the union’s proposal for more cargo trains.

One of its suggestions is to lease trains from other countries and another is for KTMB to obtain a bank loan.

“We have to prepare now for the future because we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last.” – March 2, 2021.

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