Loss-making Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTMB) says that it will need to increase its fares in order to break even, The Star reports. It stated that low ticket prices was the primary reason it was incurring losses.

According to KTMB chairman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad, the country’s main rail operator can only balance its books if it is allowed to increase the fare by two sen per kilometre. He added that it suffered RM50 million in losses every year, but this was not due to low ridership.

“We have about 52 million passengers using KTM annually, so it’s not the issue of ticket sales,” he said, adding that the reason was the pricing of tickets as defined by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD). He said that presently, KTMB’s operating cost per kilometre was higher than the fare per kilometre it was charging.

Competition was also eating into business, with KTMB losing some 15,000 passengers daily whenever the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) rolled out discounts for the public. “We have 140,000 passengers every day, but when LRT offers discounts for routes that are similar to ours, we lose customers,” Nawawi explained.

He said the company raised capital recently by selling off its stake in Sentul Raya for RM252.42mil to YTL Land & Development. “We’re in a situation where we need a financial boost in order to increase the quality of our services, and we don’t want to burden the Government,” he said.

Nawawi added that in order for KTMB to remain competitive, the company will enhance its services by improving train frequency and punctuality during peak hours.