KTM Train Disruption

11 10 2009

KTM put up signs at their stations before Hari Raya saying “Maaf Zahir dan Batin” (I ask forgiveness for any physical and emotional wrongdoings). They have a lot of forgiveness to ask for, especially after what happened today (today in Hindu time).

As usual, I went to KL Sentral this morning to get the train to Rawang. However, an announcement came over the loudspeaker, saying that the train would be delayed for 50 minutes. I just kept sitting there, watching videos on my iPod. Another annoucement came saying that the train was coming in 30 minutes and that it was now at the Kajang station.

I left the waiting area and went out into the main station. I bought myself an ice cream from McDonald’s and then I looked in the bookshop there, which has some second-hand books. I didn’t find anything that interested me, though.

I went back down to the platform and waited. Another annoucement said that the train would be there in 15 minutes (I think it was at Bandar Tasik Selatan at that point). Eventually an annoucement came saying that the train would arrive in 4 minutes and that it had just left Mid Valley. When it arrived, I saw it was a Class 81 EMU, the oldest kind with the most seats.

Passengers waiting at Kuala Lumpur Station beside the train.

Passengers waiting at Kuala Lumpur Station beside the train.

I got on the train and we finally started moving. We reached the next station,
Kuala Lumpur, and the train stopped for a long time. An announcement came over the train’s loudspeakers. I couldn’t understand it, but everyone got off the train so I did as well. The driver got in the cab at the other end of the train as it was going back to Seremban (the last station on the line). The train left and we waited for the next one to arrive. I thought there must have been some problem with the train.

Movie camera and studio light at Kuala Lumpur station

Movie camera and studio light at Kuala Lumpur station

Meanwhile, filming equipment had been set up at the station. There were studio lights and I saw a professional movie camera. Computers had been set up in a special area for the production. I saw one of those boards that they use for making movies, where the scene and take numbers are written on it. I saw “Pantene” written on it, so it must have been a commercial for Pantene cosmetics that they were shooting at the station.

The train to Sentul pulled into the platform on the opposite side. The only thing is, that platform is for southbound trains (to either Port Klang or Seremban) and the train to Sentul is northbound. Obviously something was going on which had disrupted the trains from their normal schedule (and platforms).

Another train to Rawang arrived, but when it stopped at the platform, police officers went along making sure that nobody got on. It waited there for quite a while. While we were waiting, the film crew powered up one of their lights and shone it against a reflective surface. It created quite a bright, purplish light.

I saw people starting to get on the train. I asked the policeman if I could get on, and he asked me where I was going. When I told him I was going to Rawang, he told me to take a taxi or a bus there. Obviously something had majorly disrupted the train schedule. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the filming or not.

I went up and asked the guard if he could return my money (it’s actually my company’s money that they give me for travel).  The guard stamped the ticket and I can take it in and get the money back for it. I then left the station and walked all the way to where the bus to Rawang is. I got on an SJ Bus which was going to Rawang, but he told me that they wouldn’t be leaving for another 10 minutes. I then found the Metrobus to Rawang and got on it. I finally arrived in Rawang around 11:15 (I’m supposed to be at work at 10am and my class started at 11am). I bought three chocolate filled buns at the restaurant near the office and then went up. One of the other teachers had started teaching my class, so I just took over and asked the students to do the exercise he had given them.


5 10 2009

This is a warning to everyone in Malaysia – be wary of any suspicious behaviour in banks. There are crime syndicates out there. Be especially careful if you see any Arabs or Africans (although Malaysians are involved in this as well).  These crime syndicates will steal your ATM card and then withdraw all your money. The scary thing is, you don’t notice until you try to make another withdrawl. Here’s how it works.

You’re at the bank, making a withdrawal from an ATM. While you’re entering the PIN, someone is unknowingly looking over your shoulder and memorizing your PIN. Then someone will “drop” some money near you. They will point it out and ask you if it’s yours. While you are distracted by this, someone will quickly steal your ATM card and replace it with another one that has been stolen from someone else. Most people don’t look very closely at their ATM card at all. The thieves will then take your card and withdraw all your money from your account. Then they may very well transfer money from another account into your account and withdraw it, in order to make you liable for the theft of the money if it is reported.

Most people won’t notice the scam until they try to use their card again and the ATM tells them that they have the wrong PIN. This is what happened to me. The bank’s hotline told me that the card whose number I’d read out to them was not the card registered to my account. It was only then that I looked at the signature on the back and saw that it wasn’t my signature.  I made a police report and went to the bank the next day. The lady at the bank asked me if anyone had dropped any money. That’s how she was able to link what had happened to the crime syndicates stealing people’s money.

So, when you’re at the bank:
– Cover the keypad with your hands while entering the PIN
– Don’t be distracted in any way by anyone, whether it is dropped money or anything else
– Keep your eyes on the card slot until your card comes back out
– Check the signature on the back of your card each time to make sure it is your signature

If your card is suddenly missing, ring your bank’s hotline immediately. They will be able to cancel your card. Then go to the nearest branch of your bank and report the disappearance of your card. Show them the card that you were given (it should already be cancelled) and tell them everything that you can remember about the last time you used your card.

To a Mouse

24 09 2009

At work, we’d been having problems with a rat or a mouse leaving droppings all over the place. We were instructed to take our rubbish and throw it in an outside bin to stop the mouse or rat getting at it.

Yesterday I saw something dash under the free standing shelves in the kitchen. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I later thought that it could have been a mouse and that there was a hole there (I didn’t see anything come out of the other side).

Well, after my class today, my Celcom Broadband modem was missing. I looked all over for it, everywhere I could think of it might have been, but I still didn’t find it. I took the torch and checked under the desk, and then I went and looked in the kitchen again. I then had the bright idea of looking under the shelves to see if there was a mousehole. There wasn’t.

Instead I saw a little brown mouse standing there motionless. I saw a whisker move so I knew it was still alive. I got a piece of potato from my dinner leftovers and used it to bait the trap that I’d bought ages ago. This kind of trap is a steel mesh box with a springloaded door. There is a loop of wire attached to the door, and another piece of wire links the door to the bait hook. I fiddled with the wire until the trap was right, and then I positioned it near the bottom of the shelves.

I took a broom handle (with no broom attached) and I slid it under the shelves. The mouse moved, and after moving the rod a few times, he ran into the trap. The door closed behind him and he was trapped. He dashed all over the place, frantically trying to get out, but he couldn’t bite through the wires.

I asked Brian (one of the other teachers) for some help, as I was too scared to pick the trap up by the long loop of wire. However, while I was talking to him, I realised that I could pick the trap up using the old broom handle. I did. I used a ruler to fiddle with the piece of wire that went in front of the door, preventing it from opening. The mouse was now well and truly trapped.

I turned everything off, and grabbed the bag of rubbish in one hand and the rod holding the trap in the other hand. I dumped the rubbish in the bin outside the 7-Eleven and walked further up the street, holding a rod with a steel cage hanging from it. I took it across the road and a little way up the road leading to Selayang and Rawang. I then put it in the drain and tried to let the rat out.

This proved much harder than I thought, since the piece of wire in front of the door stopped it from opening. Moving that by hand would bring my fingers in reach of the mouse’s sharp dirty teeth. I eventually managed to bend that piece of wire and the door opened enough for the mouse to get out. However, he didn’t realise that he was free. I eventually had to hold the door open with the rod and then poke the mouse with another stick to make him move out the door and to freedom.

I’m annoyed now that I didn’t get a photo of the mouse in the trap.

Kelana Jaya Line signs still playing up

15 09 2009
Train being used for testing at Asia Jaya station.

Train being used for testing at Asia Jaya station.

Tonight I saw again that the Kelana Jaya Line sign at Masjid Jamek said that the train would be arriving in 16 minutes. I see that they still haven’t got everything sorted out.

I think they must be doing some kind of testing. A couple of times I’ve seen a train that is not in service, with tape blocking the entrace and filled up with some kind of bags (I’m assuming they’re filled with some kind of ballast to simulate the weight of passengers) I’ve seen cops on board the train, who must be making sure that the train is working properly.

The other night, I saw a RapidKL officer open up the Manual Driving Panel at the front of the train. The Kelana Jaya Line is an automated train, controlled by computers with no need of a human driver. However, at the front of the train, there is a Manual Driving Panel, which is usually kept locked. If there is an emergency, it can be opened so that a driver can drive the train manually. I don’t think he actually used it at all, but I got to see it. The only other time I’ve ever seen it open was not long after I’d first moved to Malaysia.

The manual driving panel for the Kelana Jaya Line trains. Very rarely seen. The handle in the middle is either the throttle or Combined Power Handle (Throttle and brake combined).

The manual driving panel for the Kelana Jaya Line trains. Very rarely seen. The handle in the middle is either the throttle or Combined Power Handle (Throttle and brake combined).

Stupid RapidKL Station Operators

9 09 2009

Tonight when I reached Masjid Jamek (this time without the Selangor bus driver making personal stops), I noticed that the electronic display said “Train destination to Kelana Jaya arriving in 16 minute(s). Disregarding the bad English, the number is normally either 1 or 2 minutes, not 15. Then it got down to 15 minute(s). I was worried that it was going to take ages to come, but it showed up a couple of minutes later and I got on. I took out my computer as usual, but when I passed through some other stations, I noticed that their signs said the same thing – that the train would be arriving in 15 minute(s).

I only figured out what had happened when I saw a sign at another station (I think it was Kerinchi). This sign said “Welcome to Kelana Jaya Line. Trains arriving every 1 minute(s)”. Trains do not arrive that quickly even at peak hours – they normally arrive every 3 minutes at the most. At night, they usually arrive every 14 mintues (or so the sign says, I’ve known them to be quicker). I immediately realized what had happened – the idiots had written the wrong numbers into the wrong announcements. They should have read “Train destination to Kelana Jaya arriving in 1 mintue(s) and “Welcome to Kelana Jaya Line. Trains arriving every 15 minute(s). Actually, the first sign should read “Train to Kelana Jaya will be arriving in 1 minute(s)”.

When I got to Asia Jaya, the sign there wasn’t working either – part of the sign was all red (all the LEDs used to make the words were lit in that area of the sign)

So not only are there lazy bus drivers working for RapidKL, there are also incompetent station operators.

Unethical behaviour of Selangor Bus driver

7 09 2009

Tonight I saw a Selangor bus coming as I was waiting at the bus stop. These buses actually go back to the Pasar Seni/Chinatown area, unlike the RapidKL buses which only go to Titiwangsa (yes, that is a real Malay place name, corny as it sounds). The bus was really old and there was no air-conditioning.

As we passed through Chow Kit, we saw some street market stalls set up there. Since it is Ramadan, there are quite a number of street stalls around (I’m not quite sure why). However, the bus driver stopped the bus TWICE on two separate occaisions and went out to buy something from these market stalls (okay, he could have been checking the bus for problems, but I seriously doubt it). I’ve come across this sort of behaviour before from Selangor bus drivers – one stopped the bus and went to buy a lottery ticket. And there was an incident where a RapidKL bus driver stopped the bus in Brickfields (less than 5 minutes down the road from where he started) and went to the toilet at the service station there. He had enough time before the bus started to use it at Pasar Seni, but he didn’t. Instead he wasted other people’s time.

This sort of behaviour is totally unethical and inappropriate. It would be like a surgeon walking out of an operation to go and buy a sandwich. You have a job to do – do your own stuff when you’ve finished or have a break.

Because of that selfish bus driver, I didn’t make it to Asia Jaya in time to get the T628 bus back to Seksyen 17 and I had to get a taxi.

Stupid KTM Ticketing Machine

5 09 2009

Stupid KTM Ticketing Machine

As usual, I was in Rawang today for work. I made it to the station just before 6:25pm, when the train leaves. However, the stupid ticketing machine there said “Coins only” after I had put in 3 ringgit (it costs RM3.60 to get to KL Sentral). I didn’t have 60 sen in coins, either my own or from my travel money. I had to go to the counter to buy my ticket, and as I was standing in the line, the train left!

I was really angry about that, since it was because of their stupid ticketing machine that I’d missed the train. I could have probably gotten on that train if I’d gotten the ticket and some change from the machine. However, I had to wait – the next train wasn’t scheduled to arrive until 6:45.

While I was waiting, an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) hitched behind a Class 24 Diesel Locomotive arrived at  the station and stopped at  the platform on the other side of the tracks. I watched as the KTM guys uncoupled the diesel locomotive and drove it down the tracks towards KL. After it had gone far enough to switch the points, they drove it back the other way and past the wating EMU. It went far up the other end of the tracks before finally being on the line that the EMU was on. I watched as they coupled the locomotive to the small flatbed car with a motor on it that is hitched in front of the EMU.  A guy stood on the flatbed car guiding the loco drivers in.

6:45 came and went, and  there was no sign of the next train. The InterCity train to Ipoh arrived, and guards carrying green and red flags stood on the platform. The InterCity is different from  the Komuter; it has normal carriages instead of an EMU. At the back there is this strange carriage with some sort of motor inside which makes a loud noise.

The Class 82 KTM train that I got on

The Class 82 KTM train that I got on

After the InterCity left, it wasn’t long before the next train to KL arrived, and as luck would have it, it was a Class 82. I prefer the Class 82 and 81 as they have more seats – they have rows of 2 seats each side, like a bus, as well as a few parallel seats (like the Kelana Jaya Line or Singapore MRT). The Class 83 trains have exactly the same seating layout as the Singapore MRT or the Kelana Jaya Line – one row of seats along the edge. This is so they can cram more people in standing.

As I was writing this on the train, an announcement came over the loudspeaker saying that  it was time for Muslims to break their fast. However, the train has signs saying “No Eating and Drinking”. Do they expect the Muslims to break their fast on the train, or is it simply an announcement so that they can break their fast once they get off and out of the station?

Interior of the Class 82 train

Interior of the Class 82 train