KUALA LUMPUR – The public transport monorail service still relies 100 percent on drivers and driving a monorail train is no easy task as testified by train driver Ramli Masdar.
Sharing his experience, Ramli said apart from determining the operating mode and speed of the train, the driver is also required to make station announcements, command the door control systems as well as control passengers.
“The important thing is to focus and concentrate while driving. Just like driving a car, we have to be alert to be able to react should there be any obstacles or problems along the way,” he told Bernama.
With an automated train, he said, it is completely different and much easier as the train movements are controlled from a control tower.
“However, I still need to contact the control tower to provide them with information,” he said.
Ramli was among the first group of drivers to join the service since operations commenced on August 31, 2003.
Currently, the 8.6 kilometre (km) monorail line that connects KL Sentral to Titiwangsa still uses the same system despite having been in operation for 17 years.
“In the past, we encountered several problems but now all operations have improved. Every day maintenance is carried out as passenger safety is our priority. This is the difference between the monorail and other public transport modes,” he said.
Ramli who hails from Batu Pahat, Johor, is proud to have been among over 500 Malaysian workers seconded to operate the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro Southern Line (MMMSL) train in Makkah for three years starting from 2015.
“I never gave it a second thought when i was first offered to work in Makkah. I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to serve there.
“If there is another opportunity, I am ever ready to operate the train in Makkah during the haj season,” he said adding that the train which operates specifically for the haj season runs 24 hours for a period of seven days.
The 18.1 km MMMSL which transports pilgrims between Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina, with nine stops along the way, is recognised as the busiest and most congested in the world.
“It is a short but very challenging period due to the huge number of passengers converging all at once, this besides, the hot weather.
“Unlike the monorail train, MMMSL is a long train as it has 12 carriages with 120 doors,” said the military veteran.
“Whatever challenges I have faced as a train driver, I am thankful to have been given the chance to perform my haj pilgrimage while assigned to operate the MMMSL and those were my sweetest memories,” he added.