LRT Crash: What can we learn from this incident.

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On May 24, two trains – an off-service train driven manually and another carrying passengers running in fully-automated mode – collided head-on in the tunnel between the Kampung Baru and KLCC stations.

This is among the findings of the nine-member investigation committee on the LRT collision, he said in a press conference on Thursday (June 10). The findings of the committee, led by Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Isham Ishak, were presented to the Cabinet on Wednesday (June 9).

In the 8.45pm incident, 213 passengers were injured, 47 of them seriously, following the collision of two LRT trains on the Kelana Jaya line, which occurred in a tunnel between the KLCC and Kampung Baru stations.The crash involved one train carrying passengers and another train, which was being test-driven following a fault, carrying only a driver.

Dr Wee explained that the test-driven train, labelled as Train 40, had experienced technical difficulties when both of its vehicle onboard communication (VOBC) systems had stopped. Train 40 was then supposed to be brought to Lembah Subang depot for maintenance.

However, it lost communication with the operations control centre and stopped between the KLCC and Kampung Baru LRT stations.A hostler, or driver, was called to manually drive Train 40 to the Dang Wangi station in order to reset the trains’ two VOBCs.

“During the process of resetting both VOBCs and driving the Train 40 manually to the re-enter point, both the hostler and the train controller at the operation centre had overlooked and missed critical procedures during this process.

“This inadvertently resulted in Train 40 being manually moved towards KLCC station, instead of southbound towards Dang Wangi station, ” said Dr Wee.

At the same time, another train – referred to as Train 81 – was at the KLCC LRT station and had passengers on board. Train 81, however, departed prematurely before Train 40 had completed its job, resulting in the collision between KLCC and Kampung Baru.

“There has to be communication to ensure that the hostler on Train 40 had completed its job.

“Train 81 should not be released from KLCC while there is another train in the tunnel.

“Because there was no strict compliance to SOPs, this resulted in the collision between Train 40 and Train 81, ” said Dr Wee.

In line with the five proposals for improvement to be carried out over the next three months, said Datin Norllia Noah (Prasarana group president and CEO), had taken several steps related to the security system, operations, staffing, and rail maintenance to firm up the standard operating procedures for the fully automated LRT system.

These are some of the immediate corrective and preventive actions taken by Prasarana:

  1. The SOP to mitigate against disruptions to communications between the OCC (operations control centre) and trains that had to be driven manually has also been tightened immediately;
  2. Assigning two train drivers – known as hostlers – to move any train that needs to be manually driven in tunnels or stretches between the Pasar Seni and Damai stations.
  3. The OCC and hostlers must ensure the train is headed in the right direction before starting the journey, without any hint of doubt.
  4. There will now be a greater distance or separation between the two trains when at least one is driven manually, with the speed of a manually-driven train capped at 20kph.
  5. Mini Emergency Response Preparedness (ERP) training will be conducted every Sunday evening, adding that the focus will be on retrieving malfunctioned trains as well as driving them in the manual mode in confined areas like tunnels and viaducts. These mini-ERP exercises have actually been done a long time ago, with various emphasis tailored to situational demands as well as different forms of emergencies. Going forward, the training will be coordinated with authorities such as the police, the Fire and Rescue Department, and the Civil Defence Force of Malaysia to elevate the knowledge and skill sets during emergencies in confined areas, based on tightened SOPs
  6. The training for hostlers will be improved, with upskilling and certification to be introduced to ensure the workforce remains efficient, current, and competent.

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