KTM’s ticketing shambles is a rail nightmare

We have been trying for over two months to purchase tickets for a rail trip by family and friends from KL to Taiping in December. We have repeatedly called the KTM customer careline, but they kept telling us to call back, saying they didn’t know when tickets would be available.

We finally found out last week that tickets would go on sale this past weekend. This morning (Monday Nov 18) we went to KL Sentral at 9.30am and were told that 500 queue tickets had been given out today, and they were currently serving #18.

We were told by security personnel that even if we could get a queue number, we would probably have to wait till evening to be served.

The crowd was huge, there were not enough seats, and we saw many old people standing around. One old man told us he had come at 5.30am and was currently number 100-something in the queue. One elderly lady had come taking two LRT connections, only to find out she couldn’t buy a ticket.

We asked about alternatives and were told that while tickets were also sold at the Old Railway Station, there was no point going there as the situation was much the same.

We had tried to buy tickets online, but none of the various websites listing KTM ticket services seem to work. The KTMB site keeps hanging, and none of the other 3rd party sites have tickets on sale for December.

I don’t understand why KTM, the sole company managing the railway system, cannot:

1. Have a fixed train schedule like almost every country in the world;
2. Have full control over its booking system for advance or current ticket sales; and
3. Have a working digital presence;

For Europe rail networks, surely at least 50 times more complicated than KTM, there is one single app and payment gateway for the entire network across Europe.

KTM’s system is an utter disgrace at a time when the country is inviting international investment on the back of purportedly efficient connectivity; urging the public to minimise traffic congestion by adopting public transport; and trying to minimise its carbon footprint.

While I do appreciate the efforts of the Minister of Transport, surely something as basic as a working intercity train system should be at the top of his priority list?

I invite the Minister to first go online to try and purchase a ticket, and then join the hordes of Malaysians at KL Sentral every morning trying to find some method to the KTM madness. And do so without your ever-present entourage, please.

And please put us, old and young Malaysians alike, out of our misery and fix this. It is an utter disgrace.

Caroleena D’Cruz is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT