Human error behind Kelana Jaya LRT collision, ex-Prasarana CEO posits

Datuk Ridza Abdoh Salleh says head-on crash unlikely, as this would’ve resulted in worse damage – and deaths

KUALA LUMPUR – The collision between two light rail transit trains on the Kelana Jaya line last night was most likely caused by human error, according to Prasarana Malaysia Bhd’s first and former CEO, shedding some light on what possibly happened. 

Speaking to The Vibes, Datuk Ridza Abdoh Salleh said unlike what has been widely reported, the incident was most likely not a head-on collision, which would have caused deaths and worse damage.

When a railcar is under manual control, where the speed is capped at 20kph, it is the control room’s responsibility to ensure other trains on the same line are slowed down to avoid a crash, he said.

This is at least until the manually operated train enters a safe portion of the track, called the “re-entry area”, where full automatic mode is reactivated and the car resumes normal speed. 

When a railcar is in manual mode, he said, the command centre is not able to detect its movement on the radar.

This means radio communication between the driver and control room is vital. 

Human error behind Kelana Jaya LRT collision, ex-Prasarana CEO posits
Rescue personnel responding to a collision between two trains on the Kelana Jaya LRT Line in the tunnel near KLCC last night. – ALIF OMAR/The Vibes pic

“The control room should have communicated with the person on the ground driving the out-of-service train, and slowed down all the other trains on auto mode behind it, especially as no one knows the exact position (of the manual train),” said Ridza.

“Our trains are designed to be fail-safe. To me, it is clearly a human error.

“Experience is required  to handle the control room. But having operated over 20 years, this should not have happened. There can be no excuse.”

Prasarana’s first chief executive, Datuk Ridza Abdoh Salleh, says there is no need to install a costly GPS system in LRT trains. – The Star pic, May 25, 2021
Prasarana’s first chief executive, Datuk Ridza Abdoh Salleh, says there is no need to install a costly GPS system in LRT trains. – The Star pic, May 25, 2021

The public transport expert said LRT trains are equipped with a system that is able to detect another object in front of them, and activates the emergency brake when required.

“The train on auto (mode) was supposedly cruising at 40kph. So, when it detected the train (in front), which was moving at 20kph, the emergency brake would have been activated, and the train must have slid and crashed into the other railcar. 

“This is why Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said the impact and damage is not very bad. The emergency brake and slight collision explain why the passengers were thrown.” 

Ridza, who was responsible for developing rail safety protocols and training Prasarana staff when the LRT first started operations in 1998, said this is the most likely scenario.

He dismissed suggestions that the trains collided head-on.

“If it was head-on, the impact would have been much graver, and the casualties would have been worse. We might even see a few fatalities.”

GPS unnecessary; heads must roll

Asked why a GPS system is not installed in LRT trains so that they can be tracked should the auto mode be switched off, Ridza said it is unnecessary and expensive.

“Accidents like this should not have happened, and even if they do, they (occur) once in a blue moon. You can’t be paying huge fees for a GPS system you won’t need most times. 

“Instead, this should be addressed through management,” he said, calling for heads to roll. 

Passengers aboard a Kelana Jaya LRT train involved in a crash last night. – Social media pic, May 25, 2021
Passengers aboard a Kelana Jaya LRT train involved in a crash last night. – Social media pic, May 25, 2021

Immediate changes must be made to the board of directors to include only experts on rail services, and not individuals without experience in the field, he said.

Additionally, he said, Prasarana should revisit the competency level of all staff, and ensure their morale and focus remain high at all times.

“The public is watching every minute. Appropriate action must be taken in light of what is the worst incident involving Prasarana in its history.”

Yesterday’s crash occurred underground near the KLCC station. There were 213 people aboard the train on auto mode when it collided into one driven by a Prasarana employee and carrying no commuters.

Immediately following the accident, videos and photos of scenes aboard the train carrying passengers flooded social media, showing people bloodied and on the ground, and broken glass everywhere.

Prasarana, in a statement today, said six individuals are in critical condition at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, with three requiring ventilators

Another 15 are in semi-critical condition, while 43 others sustained non-critical injuries. 

The accident is being investigated under Section 201 of the Land Public Transport Act 2010 for passenger endangerment.

Prasarana chairman Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman has promised a RM1,000 compensation for all victims. 

Wee said a task force has been formed to probe into the incident, with the final report expected to be completed in two weeks. 

By : Amar Shah Mohsen – THE VIBES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s