Ex-MOT officer: LRT accident not caused by just one guy pressing a wrong button

He poses whether Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system had malfunctioned or was manually disabled.

How could two light rail transit trains coming from opposite directions be travelling on the same track?

This was among several questions, a former Transport Ministry official said, that many industry players are asking now but are too afraid to speak out because of the close-knit nature of the rail industry.

Chung Yi Fan, a former special functions officer to then transport minister Anthony Loke, said many in the industry are suspecting systemic or organisational failure as the root cause.

“Everyone knows each other. They don’t want to be harsh critics or they might ruffle feathers and lose some potential jobs in the future,” Chung said on his Facebook page.

“So let me be the not-so-nice guy here to put out a few questions that almost everyone in the industry has in our minds.”

Among others, Chung asked why a four-car train set was driven in manual mode and underwent testing at 8pm last night.

He also wanted to know if the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system had malfunctioned or whether it was manually disabled.

But most importantly, Chung said, the public should be told what happened to the signalling and interlocking systems, which would have never allowed trains coming from opposite directions to be on the same track.

“There are many many more questions. Incidents of such magnitude can only happen because of multiple errors and oversight. A series of wrongdoings, not just one guy pressing a wrong button,” said Chung.

“Investigations must not rule out the possibility of an underlying systemic issue or organisational failure, or both.”

Details of the LRT accident last night are scant, although it has been established that it involved two train sets along the busy Kelana Jaya line.

According to Dang Wangi District police chief Mohamad Zainal Abdullah, preliminary investigations suggested that one train set was undergoing testing and was driven manually on the wrong track while the other, which carried 232 passengers, was driven autonomously.

The accident has resulted in 47 people being hospitalised.

The Kelana Jaya LRT line began operations in 1998. Its trains by Canadian firm Bombardier are fully automated while the signalling system is by French firm Thales.

This is believed to be the first head-on collision involving two LRT train sets in the country.


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