Human factor just one of causes to train collision, says minister

A 9-member investigation team has begun other factors that may have contributed to the accident


THE Transport Ministry says it is still investigating other possible causes that contributed to “human factor” in the unprecedented collision of two trains on the LRT Kelana Jaya Line on Tuesday night that injured hundreds of commuters.

“I wish to clarify that ‘human factor’ is merely a single facet in an investigation of this nature, which also takes into consideration an entire range of technical and operational components,” Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (picture) said in a statement yesterday.

He said a nine-member investigation team has begun other factors that may have contributed to the accident.

Wee had said on Tuesday that a hostler, or train driver, went the wrong way while shunting an empty train. The empty train collided with another train packed with commuters in the incident.

“Experts have begun to examine various aspects of the incident, of which the human factor is only one.

“We also wish to remind that the hostler involved in the incident had tested negative following a drug test,” he said.

“This person must be allowed the opportunity to be heard in order to facilitate the investigation without premature judgements.”

Wee said the ministry is also, at the same time, investigating how safety protocols were breached in the run-up to the accident.

He said 67 persons were treated at Kuala Lumpur Hospital for injuries following the accident and 61 had been discharged. Three of the six patients are still admitted at the hospital under critical care.

On Tuesday, an empty train No 40 had apparently went in a wrong direction and collided with an unmanned train carrying 213 people on the LRT Kelana Jaya Line. The No 40 train was being driven by a hostler after facing technical failure.

Wee had said then that initial investigations showed that the driver of No 40 train failed to follow the correct orientation given by the controller.

He said preliminary investigations show that the cause of the accident was human error, having seriously injured 47 passengers while the rest sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile, Selangor executive councillor Ng Sze Han called for a review of procedures for operations and maintenance following the collision.

“This manual driving which is not coordinated by the control centre is very worrying.

“I take note that the Ministry of Finance and the Transport Ministry has requested the operator of this system, namely Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, to conduct a thorough investigation,” he said.

He said the Selangor government wants the results of the investigation to be shared because most of the train system is located in Selangor.

“The Selangor state government also wants (LRT operator) Prasarana to re-evaluate the procedures of the operation and maintenance.

“This includes ensuring training frequency adequate emergency drills to deal with incidents such as this, as life-threatening incidents like this can stifle initiative and encouragement to build the trust of the people,” he said.

The state government targets to increase the public transport usage from 20% now to 60% by 2030 following the increase in population in the Klang Valley.

He also questioned whether the evacuation process of victims was well-executed.

“At the time of the incident, there were other users at the station waiting for the arrival of the train.

“These concerns arise because we not only want the people to believe that the system public transportation is convenient and fast, but more importantly, their dependence to move from one area to another in a safe condition,” he said.

He added that the state government is also aware of the overall development of the train system in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with the construction of other rail systems.

“Therefore, it is important that the results of this investigation are discussed together and what is more important is the re-evaluation of train procedures and maintenance, including this track.

“For now, the state government is seeking feedback and input from the Smart Selangor Command Centre on transportation requests made public by the people of the state, and the state government is ready to add Selangor Smart Bus frequency to cover the lack of train frequency as a result of this incident,” he said.