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I REFER to the news report, “KTMB aims for RM1 profit” (NST, Jan 19) in which KTMB’s new managing director Abd Radzak Abd Malek was reported to have said that “the freight unit is now profitable, contributing half of the company’s revenue while the KTM Komuter unit is breaking even”.

“The inter-city service is still a loss-making unit. The plan’s first phase includes cutting operational costs by 30 per cent,” he had added.

The fact that the freight unit is profitable and contributing half of the company’s profits is very encouraging. By developing this sector further and making it even more profitable, the losses incurred by the inter-city unit can be offset.

Another benefit of strengthening this unit is that, by increasing the volume of freight haulage between towns served by railways, the traffic congestion caused by heavy haulage lorries on the corresponding stretches of our highways will be eased, hopefully leading to fewer accidents.

The overhead cost of the inter-city railway unit is bound to be high because of the high cost of maintaining hundreds of kilometres of railway lines. In the interest of the safety of passengers, the standard of maintenance of the railway lines should not be compromised by cost-cutting measures.

The way forward is to further develop and enhance the profitability of the freight haulage unit by encouraging more people to transport their goods by rail.

M. GANESHADEVA, Kuala Lumpur

Source: NST – February 6, 2009