It looks unlikely that the Kuala Lumpur-Padang Besar Electric Train Service (ETS) will commence operations today – last Thursday. KTM had stated that the 329 km route would begin operating on July 1, in time for the Hari Raya balik kampung rush.

Two days ago, it was reported that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) had not yet given the green light for the service – which was originally scheduled to be operational this September – to begin. Yesterday, the commission reiterated that approval had not yet been given.

According to Bernama, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said the commission was still inspecting the Chinese-made ETS trains and the double tracks of the route, adding that SPAD will give its approval after ensuring public safety is assured.

He warned that there would be consequences if KTM decides to go ahead with the service. “We have told them already (the postponement of operation), but we have to take action if they flout the law. We need to inspect quite a number of their tracks and trains,” he told reporters.

In a separate statement, SPAD said that it was still working with the rail service provider “to guarantee the level of safety and comfort for passengers”. The regulator said it had conducted rail inspections for the Ipoh-Padang Besar and the Seremban-Gemas double tracks to identify safety issues such as checking rail conditions, signalling, stations and the condition of the rolling stock or train sets.

“Even though the Ipoh-Padang Besar and Seremban-Gemas sectors have been completed for full operations, SPAD’s observations show that the new train sets have yet to fully comply with the conditions. We recommend that KTM use the current ETS train sets for the operation of these sectors,” it said.

Earlier, SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal had explained that KTM’s July 1 target date was based on the extension of the current KL-Ipoh service to Padang Besar using today’s Korean-made trains with a top speed of 140 km/h.

“Nothing has been finalised. We still need to complete the commissioning of the double-track. Even the new batch of China-made electric trains which can touch 160 km/h are yet to undergo full testing. So it will take some time,” he said. Last week, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that KL-Butterworth ETS services would be ready by July.