KOTA KINABALU: The State Railway Department (SRD) will be undertaking a study on extending its services all the way to the east coast of Sabah.
Deputy Chief Minister cum Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan said RM1 million had been approved to conduct the study.
“We will be looking at extending the railway line all the way to Sandakan and even to Kudat,” he told reporters after attending a briefing on the latest development in the State Railway Department here yesterday.
Pairin later took the train to Beaufort where he officiated at the launching of the department’s new Diesel Multiple Train (DMU) which will be used to serve the Beaufort-Tenom route.
The DMU, which was acquired at a cost of RM7.62 million from India, has a carrying capacity of 192 passengers and can travel up to 90km per hour.
During the press conference, Pairin said a total of 494,638 people had used the rail service last year. During the same period the SRD had also recorded 134 service cancellations due to unavoidable causes such as technical problems and weather.
“The cancellation has shown a significant decrease as 705 were recorded in 2015. This is because SRD is in the process of updating its operation and administration. This effort will be continued in order for SRD to achieve a more consistent and reliable service,” Pairin said.
“Other than the DMU, SRD has also acquired two Railbuses, each with a carrying capacity of 60 passengers to serve the Tanjung Aru-Beaufort route,” he said, adding that the department had also started to use a ‘tamping machine’ to maintain the tracks in a more systematic and effective way.
“All these assets were acquired at a cost of RM13 million and financed by the state government. Under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) the state government has approved a ceiling of RM47 million for projects to further develop and improve the rail service. The projects will be implemented from between 2016 to 2020,” he said, adding that this year, a total of RM5.43 million had been approved to implement projects such as repairing the permanent tracks, acquiring of machinery and upgrading the department’s siren system.
Also under the 11MP, the federal government, through its Transport Ministry, has approved RM99.5 million to upgrade the railway tracks from Halogilat to Tenom as well as to acquire three DMUs.
“Both these projects are expected to commence this year and be completed within 24 months,” he said.
On the matter of safety, Pairin said his ministry was taking a serious note of the matter and had taken various steps to prevent accidents from happening, such as carrying out maintenance work on the rail tracks to prevent slipping, erecting warning signboards and building service roads for vehicles.
“We also conduct public awareness programs like dialogues with the public and distributing flyers on the matter in schools,” he said.
SRD, he added, had been requested to increase its safety level by installing and repainting faded ‘yellow boxes’ as well as yellow bar lines on roads, increasing the number of staff at crossings, installing CCTVs at all train crossings and erecting signboards at crossings.
Meanwhile, Sabah Railway Department general manager Melvin Majanga said there were 51 crossings along the train route from Tanjung Aru to Tenom.