Tue, 22 Aug 2000

PT KAI suspects dead radio the cause of Saturday's crash

BANDUNG, West Java (JP): An official of state railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) said here on Monday that the poor state of radio communication equipment had most likely caused the train collision in the Pinangsia-Ancol area of Jakarta on Saturday.

"The radio on the electric passenger train was dead," KAI spokesman Gatot Wibowo told reporters.

"When the train suddenly lost its power and stopped at an area between Kampung Bandan and Angke railway stations, the driver of the electric passenger train could not contact the nearest railway station to inform officials of the incident. No communication led to misunderstandings, and hence the crash."

The collision between an electric train and a diesel train, which occurred at 1:10 p.m., killed three people, all identified as KAI staff members, and injured at least 12 others, mostly passengers of the electric train.

Spokesman of KAI's Greater Jakarta office Zainal Abidin said that Kampung Bandan officials had called Angke Station to ask whether the electric passenger train from Tangerang had arrived.

Angke Station officials assumed that the electric train must have been in a secure position and that the next train, which was the diesel freight train, could leave Kampung Bandan Station.

"So Kampung Bandan Station released the diesel train, which eventually rear-ended the electric train at 40 kilometers per hour," said Zainal.

Gatot said that since June, KAI had revised the staggered departure of one train from another, from eight minutes to 12 minutes, on the Greater Jakarta railway lines, for security reasons.

"So, when one train is released, the next train will be released after 12 minutes, instead of eight. And yet, this accident happened," Gatot said.

"The drivers of both the diesel and the electric trains will be severely punished."

The track between the Angke and the Kampung Banda stations was curvilinear, making it difficult for the driver of the diesel train to see ahead clearly.

"We're still investigating the monitoring panels at the two stations, which were supposed to help the officials locate the electric train," said Zainal, adding that there was no radio communication between the two trains on the track.

Meanwhile, Pademangan and North Jakarta Police officers were investigating the cause of the electricity failure on the passenger train.

"We're also going to ask Sumarno, the driver of the passenger train, about the case," said Zainal, adding that the driver of diesel train, Jumiran, was still hospitalized at Atmajaya Hospital in Pluit, North Jakarta.

"All of the victims' medical expenditures, both the passengers and our employees, will be covered by medical insurance provided by PT KAI," said Zainal.

The collision on Saturday was the fifth such incident in the greater Jakarta area in the past seven months. (25/ylt)