In 1965, as a young lad of 20 years old, I received my first ‘warrant’. If you were me, would you have felt worried or excited about it? I’m sure you would. Those who are familiar with the Driving School Blog, would most probably jump to the conclusion that I have been served with a ‘traffic warrant’.
Have I contravened one of the many sections of the infamous Road Transport Ordinance 1987? Maybe. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even own a driving licence then. How was it possible for me to be served with a warrant of arrest then?
The above ‘warrant’ being referred to was in reality a ‘train warrant’. It was issued to successful candidates selected for a teacher training course to be conducted by the Malayan Government. To provide trainees transportation to its training centres, the Malayan Government had to depend on K.T.M. or the Malayan Railways.
The Malayan Railways locomotive train, if I remember well, departed from Johor Baru, in the south, ferrying trainees all along the way, passing through towns like Batu Pahat, Gemas, Seremban and then finally to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
It was at Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, that this 21 years old youngster, lugging along 2 or 3 canvas bags, boarded the ‘kereta api’ Tanah Melayu, one eventful morning way back in 1965. And where do you think was I headed for? I was then heading towards Jitra, a small and remote town in Kedah. If I recollect clearly, I was being sent to a fairly large and well-known secondary school, the Sultan Abdul Halim Secondary School, Alor Akar, Jitra, Kedah.
Allow me to tell you about the K.T.M. train which was about to take us through the entire Malayan Peninsula. It was scheduled to pass through Ipoh, then proceed downwards north to Alor Star, Kedah. Eventually, chartered buses were to transport us to our final destination of Alor Akar, Kedah.
The K.T.M. or Keretapi Tanah Melayu’ in those days were unlike our present day trains which we have today. The train those days, in 1965 to be exact, were fueled by diesel. As a result, it emitted a lot of smoke and dust. To be expected, the train was only equipped with ordinary ceiling fans. In our local, hot and humid weather and with thousands of passengers packed like sardines, the condition was most unbearable, believe me.
As I said earlier, I boarded the K.T.M. locomotive at the Railway Station of Kuala Lumpure. I remember the train was so crowded that morning. I could not even find a seat. Can you imagine travelling north, a journey of about 180-200 kilometres in such conditions? It was the beginning of a miserable and unforgettable journey, which was to remain etched in my memory the rest of my entire life. To tell you the truth, nearly 50 years have since gone by, and I’m still relating about it today!
I still recollect sitting on the floor with a few of my close friends, huddled together. We were in fact very near a toilet. But we couldn’t move, not even an inch, so to say. And so, we were unable to go to the toilet to ease ourselves, all the way from Kuala Lumpur to the north. It was something which I would rather not remember at all.
But in spite of the deplorable conditions which existed in the K.T.M. train, some things nice did happen. Destiny had it that I was to meet and make friends in the likes of a Wong C.K., Hakimuddin, Lee K.P, Arul, and a Mr Tan Tung. I have not seen them for years now. But it is my contention, that they are well and still alive today. Albeit, they must be either in their sixties and some may even be in their seventies today.
K.T.M. train services today however has undergone a tremendous change. It boasts of modern, air-conditioned coaches, unlike the trains I’ve mentioned, nearly half a century ago. I dare say, ‘Keretapi Tanah Melayu’ trains are even comparable to the L.R.T. (light transit trains) run by RAPID, which operates from Kelana Jaya to Terminal Putra Gombak.
Permit me to tell readers about the K.T.M. trains that are available today. Just recently , I was opportune to board a K.T.M. train travelling from Klang to K.L. Sentral, and what do I feel about the journey? Before I give you my opinions, let me first of all enlighten you how I came about the be settling foot on a K.T.M. train, of all things!
Well, my close buddy, a fellow driving school instructor of Rakan IKSAN Driving Institute, Meru, Selangor, a Mr. Chin, 73, suggested that I try the K.T.M. train service available today. As so, on Thursday, the 20th February 2014, the two of us parked my driving school (a Kancil 600 c.c. vehicle) at the Bukit Badak halt nerby Taman Connaught, Klang, intending to board a K.T.M. train to Kuala Lumpur.
To tell you a little bit more about K.T.M. trains, let it be known their trains amongst other things:-
i) have special coaches for ladies.
ii) are fully air-conditioned.
iii) the trains follow quite a reliable time-table.
iv) K.T.M. trains, from Port Klang to K.L. Sentral, passes through approximately 13 to 14 sub-stations or ‘halts’.
v) the K.T.M. trains stop at each sub-station for not more than a minute or two only.
vi) all in all, the journey which this writer and his buddy took that morning, took roughly 45 minutes or so. Compare this to bus services provided by City Liner buses and Searanas Bus Services along the Federal Highway, this is indeed ‘fast’.
vii) most attractive of all, senior citizens or warga emas , citizens like your faithfully and his compatriat Mr Chin, we pay a sum of only RM1.80 discounted rate, as compared to bus tickets of RM3.00.
To end this article on K.T.M. latest train services, I wish to applaud it for providing the public a wonderful and enjoyable train service to the city of Kuala Lumpur. On top of that, train commuters can park their vehicles at K.T.M.’s ample parking lot at Jalan Station in Klang for a fee of RM3-4 per day. Readers who have yet to experience travelling in a K.T.M. train, why not attempt to travel from Port Klang to Kuala Lumpur the soonest possible. You will then be able to decide for yourselves whether what I’ve revealed in this article the truth or otherwise!
I read somewhere, that ‘trains’ in fact ‘stops’ for no one. Even the Queen of England, it is said, has to stop for it to pass through!