It’s not just LRT driver’s fault, says ex-Prasarana boss

PETALING JAYA : Is it right to blame only the driver of the empty train for Monday’s LRT collision, which injured scores of passengers in the other train?

No, said a former CEO of Prasarana Malaysia Bhd in reaction to a statement from transport minister Wee Ka Siong, which attributed the crash to the driver’s negligence.

Ridza Abdoh Salleh, Prasarana’s first CEO, said the task force probing the accident must also look into what was going on at the command centre.

Wee, referring to initial findings of the investigation, said yesterday that these showed the accident was caused by “the negligence of the hostler, who was driving TR40 in the wrong direction”.

Prasarana’s first CEO, Ridza Abdoh Salleh, says the task force probing Monday’s accident must also look into what was going on at the command centre. (Twitter pic)

Ridza said it was obvious that human error caused the crash, but added that the task force should find out whether the mistake happened during a fundamental procedure in rebooting a timed-out train.

He told FMT that it was normal for trains to time out and be manually driven to a re-entry point before being rebooted to go back into automated train operation (ATO) mode. The locations of trains in ATO mode can be seen on a screen in the command centre.

When a train is being rebooted, the driver and command centre would be in constant radio communication because trains driven manually would no longer be visible on the screen.

Personnel manning the command centre with full view of the ATO trains can put these on hold so as to give a manually driven train time and space to head to a re-entry point and safely get onto the track.

Ridza said the command centre would be directing the driver’s every move during this process.

“The procedure is not rocket science or something secretive. It’s done almost every day. If they failed to perform this simple procedure and this led to the accident, then we have to worry. There are more underlying issues.

Ridza Abdoh Salleh.

“How on earth did the hostler drive the other way?”

He said hostlers would just follow the control centre’s instructions and give their feedback.

“The task force should also ask if the control room was at fault for allowing the ATO train to move as normal despite knowing that a train in manual mode was in the process of being re-entered.”

He said trains in ATO mode were essentially in a controlled environment, with their speed and stoppages at the command centre’s fingertips.

He sought to reassure the public that the LRT lines were still safe, thanks to the automated system in place.

However, he said Prasarana’s management should take a serious look into the organisation and put suitable people at the company’s top levels.

“Failure doesn’t come overnight. There are signals, like how our bodies develop symptoms when we’re sick. If we overlook these signs, then it can lead to catastrophic results.

“I don’t blame people for raising questions no matter how irrelevant they are. The accident has created concerns of uncontrolled magnitude, looking at the videos and pictures on social media,” he said.

Monday night’s accident happened on the Kelana Jaya line. Two hundred and thirteen people were injured, 47 of them seriously.

By : Nicholas Chung – FMT

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