Meridian Pioneer diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU), United Kingdom

Meridian/Pioneer diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU), for illustration only

Travel time to Kelantan may soon be reduced in two to three years’ time if one is travelling via the East Coast Line, notes Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB). The Star reports that KTMB is planning to employ 13 new hybrid diesel-electric trains, worth some RM400 million, on the 526-km track, once upgrades are completed by early 2018.

Known as diesel-electric multiple units (DEMU), it will be powered by a diesel engine and an electric generator or alternator, managing speeds of 120 km/h, with 400 passengers on-board. The old locomotives could only manage a maximum speed of 90 km/h, according to KTMB president Datuk Sarbini Tijan.

“We anticipate that from Gemas, within four and a half hours, we should be in Gua Musang,” he added. Apart from that, the new trains could get a bistro, plug points for passengers and probably WiFi as well. In addition to that, a new DEMU maintenance depot is currently being planned for Padang Tengku.

Sarbini also stated that RM786 million (on top of the RM400 million) is being set aside for the purpose of upgrading the track, signalling infrastructure and stations. On that note, the president disclosed that the line will not have a double-tracking system. Meanwhile, he noted that the plan also means that the ageing Intercity trains for the East Coast Line would be phased out.

Previously, Sarbini suggested that the older Intercity trains be converted as excursion trains, rather than scrapping them entirely. The old trains, catered to those who like heritage, will be repurposed to serve as holiday trains. The first rides will be Tumpat-KL (by early April), Kuala Lipis-Kuala Krau-Gua Musang-Kuala Lipis and Johor Bahru-Haadyai (from May onwards).