Improvement 1995 to cater commuters in Kuala Lumpur

Improvement of Commuter Rail Station in Batang Benar, Seremban District, Negeri Sembilan: A Case StudySyed Zulkarnain Shah Syed Ahmad Kamal, Mohamad Sofian Abdul WahabFaculty of Engineering Technology, Universiti  Tun Huessein Onn Malaysia, 86400 Parit Raja, Batu Pahat, Johor, MalaysiaCorresponding author: [email protected]. Rail station is one of the important infrastructure components in railway system. It is a place where a train arrives to pick-up and drop-off passengers. Today, the function and content of rail station buildings and facilities have transformed in pace with user desires, design requirements and technical development. This paper will discuss and review design, safety and accessibility issues affecting existing rail stations in Batang Benar Commuter Station after more than 20 years of services. The conclusion reached will be a possible proposition towards a better, safer, convenient and comfortable rail station building and facilities.1. IntroductionThe commuter rail station to be deliberated is identified by the name Batang Benar Komuter Station. It is located in Seremban district in Negeri Sembilan. The station is wholly owned by Railway Asset Corporation (RAC) and is served by the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB). KTMB is the main rail operator along Peninsular Malaysia holding a record of more than 80 stations with a total route length under their operations more than 1,700 km. In terms of passenger railway service operated by KTMB, KTM Komuter is currently the most profitable passenger service offered by KTMB. KTM Komuter is an electrified commuter train service which started their operation in 1995 to cater commuters in Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding suburban areas such as Klang Valley and Seremban. Batang Benar Komuter Station is one of the earliest stations out of seventeen rail stations in Seremban Line. After more than twenty years of operation, this rail station needs improvement to cater for the growing needs of consumers in the surrounding areas and improve the comfort of commuters. Thus, railway companies such as RAC are rejuvenating old rail stations to meet new needs. This implicates the redesign of the railway station infrastructure to meet higher quality standards and more varied requirements including those of railway passengers, business meetings and commercial services 1. The important aim is to recognize what is the needs of commuters, including those with restricted mobility, can best be met as to transform the rail stations into user-friendly and much safer for everyone. 2. Analysis of Batang Benar Rail StationA case study of a typical rail station was studied to explore its present-day condition. The methodology used for this analysis is through observations, surveys and interviews with KTMB staff, Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR) from Cawangan Kejuruteraan Infrastruktur Pengangkutan officers and several users. From the information and some of the data that has been obtained, several studies and comparisons were made with the renovation work done at several rail stations in Malaysia and the United Kingdom (UK). A railway stations in UK was chosen as a reference because the railway system of Britain is the oldest in the world. There is several principles and guidelines need to be followed to promote a reliable ‘best practice’ methodology in facility development and layout design of the station as to enable planners and designers of railway stations to present an optimal facility 2.A rail station in Batang Benar has a side-by-side platform as shown in Figure 1. The existing facilities at the station are Ticket Counter, Ticket Vending Machine, Car park Lot, Waiting Area, Surau, Cafeteria, Toilet, Office and Footbridges. The station already have a well design building and facilities but there are some findings that can be improved to give new impetus to the rail station, especially on the use of facilities for the disabled. Brons, Givoni and Rietveld (2009) reported that for irregular travelers the accessibility dimension is much more important. Thus, the current satisfaction level with the accessibility has a higher adverse impact on the overall satisfaction 3. Based on investigation and findings too, the issues that need to be addressed the most at this rail station are security issues especially at the car park 4. Hence, this findings will discussed further in the topic of improvements and recommendations through two aspects:• Safety & Security• AccesibilityThe output of this finding is to propose an image of a welcoming rail station, safe to use, easy to access and contribute positively to the overall journey experience. Good function and facilities will boost passengers to return and to favor rail travel as the most convenient an enjoyable way to travel 5. 3. Improvements and recommendations of rail stationConventionally across all over the world, the suburban network operation including the buses, falls under the purview of the Government which also absorbs the operating losses 6. The Government and RAC need to play a very important role in ensuring a rail stations that are over the age of twenty years require an improvement and a new image. Despite some parts of a stations having standardised components, station design is site-specific with no two stations ever being exactly the same 2.3.1 Safety & SecurityAlthough terrorism countermeasures will be the subject of on-going research and investment for rail operators and governments, major effort is also being dedicated to protecting passengers and stations from more menial crimes like theft, assault and vandalism. Due to the consistent effort of rail operators and regulators, rail travel is one of the safest modes of transport available. Statistically, there is a study showing that taking a train is ten times safer than an equivalent car journey 7. In a safe rail transit station, people know that they can use any part of the station without fear of injury, incident, threat or mistreatment and feel assured of protection in an emergency 45. Thus, it is essential that any station design provides a safe environment for station operational staff, passengers and the general public. 3.1.1 Covered Walkway To Create a walking environment 4. The distance from the end of the car park to the rail station is 350 meters long and it takes four minutes to reach the rail station as shown in Figure 2. Consequently, the provision of pedestrian covered walkways is essential to provide comfort to consumers from hot and rainy weather. The pedestrian walkway will also be equipped with lighting and CCTV to provide a secure level of safety for the users. 3.1.2 Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) A new improvement on this rail station is to make sure all areas must be designed to be well-lit with minimal blind-spots for optimum CCTV coverage 7 8. Where there are no direct lines of sight within the station, CCTV cameras allow rail way staffs get a greater oversight of key station ranges such as car park entrance, car park area, waiting area and the platform. CCTV performs a useful role as a record of evidence that can assist in the identification of perpetrators of vandalism and crime such as a theft, robberies, personal attacks and suicide 9. A lot of cameras are used for collecting evidence, particularly when recording images without watching them in real-time. In such cases, these cameras are a tools and instruments which make it more than a simple signs and reminders 10. Figure 3 indicate the basic diagrams of CCTV system with the suggestion of locations at the station.3.1.3 Lighting System This rail station works from early morning until late at night. Therefore, an efficient lighting system must be done within the station and particularly for covered walkways at the parking areas, isolated space and public routes 47. The fundamental standard of designing installations shall have full regard to whole of life economic factors, energy conservation and maintenance requirements. 3.1.4 Emergency Alarm & Help Points In security systems, establishing a reliable communication channel for emergency care has a high priority 411. This point will be design as a two way intercom providing the public with emergency assistance with the push of a button, allowing immediate contact with the security from the rail office. Another function of this panic button is to produce a distress sound to alert all parties that an emergency is occurring and assistance is needed. It is recommended that the button point be located in a high-risk place such as a car park area along the covered walkway and at the platform.3.1.5 Single Entry Car park Based on assessments and feedback from users, the shape of car park area at this station is long and there have been some criminal cases for consumers who put cars far from the station as the area is quiet from the crowd. Based on the current design, this car park area is gated and has two routes in and out. The existing entrance of the car park is as shown in Figure 4. As an improvement, it is recommended that this gated car park area maintained but with only one wide lane exit as shown in the Figure 5. A single entry car park is very important as being the only public vehicle lane to come in and out. This new method will make everybody aware and alert of any traffic flow occur at the car park lane. 3.2 AccessibilityAccessible public transport refers to the establishment of an access to public transport for all members of the community, including people with special needs 9. This station already has basic routes and equipment for pedestrians. Significant improvements should be made for the disabled who want to use this station. It will be great to improve the accessibility of this rail services because it will be easier for people to utilise local connections for work and to stay connected to family and friends. As for this station, providing a better accessibility means to provide a safe, practicable, convenient, attractive and efficient place for arrival and departure of all users.3.2.1 Disable Car Park Space In conjunction with the additional proposal of pedestrian covered walkway mentioned in 3.1.1, it shall include a design to assist a disable user from entrance to the railway platform. The station has provided a parking space for the disabled 8 12. However, for the first time users that come to this station will have a hard time identifying the parking lot for the disabled because the space is covered by a tree branch, not properly maintained and show no clear signboards as shown in Figure 6. Thus, this should be improved to facilitate disabled people to use facilities at this station as illustrated in Figure Disable Pedestrian Access In conjunction with the additional proposal of pedestrian covered walkway mentioned in 3.1.1, it shall include a design to assist a disable user from entrance to the railway platform. Normally, a typical 300x300mm tactile paving will be suggested in this renovation works. Figure 8 shows a typical installation of this tile which usually involves a direction and decision tile for a 3 ways and 90 degrees junction Lift System The station has a footbridge facility to cross the platform for the exchange of railway line and directions. Unfortunately lift facilities are not available at this station in the early stages of the design and construction. Therefore, it is proposed to build and provide one lift for each platform 1 and platform 2. Each platform lifts should be designed to be functional self-sufficiently and accessible to persons using wheelchairs and those with reduced mobility, people with children, heavy luggage and elderly people. Design of the controls buttons shall include tactile material to help persons who have visual limitations and shall be easy to reach and push with minimal strength to operate 8 12. The location proposed for the lift core to be placed is adjacent to the footbridge pillar. Figure 9 shows an illustration of the proposed disable lift system design while Figure 10 shows the footbridge at platform 1 and platform 2 which need an improvement of a lift system each.3.2.4 Waiting Area This station has a limited waiting space before passengers walk through ticket gate and enter the platform area. While the passenger is waiting for a train or for someone to fetch, there should be a comfort and protection zone for them from any discomfort and threat. Well maintained and internally lit space of appropriate size can make a stations feel more warm and welcoming 458. 3.2.5 Station Name Plates Name tag is very important at each station as it will be a visual reminder to passengers about the arrival of each station’s destination other than audio reminder in the train. These should be well lit and readily visible from all seats in arriving trains. Figure 11 shows an existing name plates and a new name plate design proposal based on observation from several other stations. The material of new name plates shall be made of concrete.4. ConclusionThis study and report was made to discuss the infrastructure improvement work for the Batang Benar Rail Station. These recommendations are proposed for assistance in the station rejuvenation process and are best considered as a lesson learn and enhancement of railway station at the earliest stages of station design scoping, master-planning and preliminary design. Apart from the infrastructure factors, there is another factor that needs to be highlighted, that is the staff factor at this rail station. Study has shown that a visible staffing presence at stations is the single most important factor in making passengers feels secure and safe. Deployment of staff is one of the key issues. Staffing presence is usually in the form of ticket office staff. Passenger’s satisfaction with the rail journey is partly the result of their happiness with the access facilities provided to them and therefore, improving the quality of the access and safety to the railway station is likely to increase rail images and reputation.