KTM AFC First Class Coach not available on Ekspres Rakyat Timuran from 5 November 2021 on KTMB Integrated Ticketing System (KITS)
From 5 November 2021, the AFC (Air-conditioned First Class) coach is no longer available for bookings on board the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran on the KTMB Integrated Ticketing System (KITS). This comes as a surprise as the AFC was previously available for bookings all the way until the end of the year, as previously searched for my rant on empty trains here.
Here are the searches that I made for a few days in end-October to ensure that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me day after day:
Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 26up on 4 November 2021 with AFC
The Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 26up departing from JB Sentral on 4 November 2021 has the AFC coach available on sale as per normal.
Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 27dn on 4 November 2021 with AFC
The Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 27dn departing from Tumpat on 4 November 2021 also has the AFC coach available on sale as per normal.
Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 26up on 5 November 2021 without AFC
On the next day, Friday, 5 November 2021, the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 26up departing from JB Sentral does not have the AFC coach available for sale. Only coaches T2 to T8 are available for booking, with T1 missing.
Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 27dn on 5 November 2021 without AFC
Similarly, the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran 27dn on Friday, 5 November 2021 departing from Tumpat does not have the AFC coach available for sale. Only coaches T2 to T8 are available for booking, with T1 missing.
New Total of 360 Seats on Ekspres Rakyat Timuran
As compared with the total of 396 seats when bookings had just opened for this season of tickets, the new total available seats on the the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran is now 360 seats, which is exactly 36 seats from the AFC minused off the total.
A quick click-in on the seats reveal that the AFC is missing from the rake for all trains from 5 November 2021 onwards. And yes, the Christmas Eve train is still 100% empty. I’m still disappointed.
What I Think Of This AFC Removal
Wait wait wait.
Looking at the bright side, I’m still thinking that this is not an actual 100% removal of the AFC from Ekspres Rakyat Timuran. And I really hope I’m right.
See, I noticed that both up and down Ekspres Rakyat Timuran are stopping AFC ticket sales on the same day (4 November 2021). This arrangement doesn’t make sense to leave the coach at the final destination just as it is, if it were meant to be for maintenance (or refurbishment, or scrap) together, as there has to be a main place to perform such works on them (ie. Kempas depot or Batu Gajah depot).
Here are my hypotheses on this issue.
Probability #1: KTM will add in the AFC 1 day before
In the old booking system before the KTMB Integrated Ticketing System (KITS) was in place, KTM had always added in the single AFC First Class coach only on the day of travel itself. Maybe KTM is going back to this practice, for reasons beyond me, if it were this straightforward. But read on.
Probability #2: KTM will open the AFC for booking after this article goes live
If there are sufficient online sentiments just like the DMU sitting on floor issue, KTM may respond with what the rakyat wants. (Although I’m conflicted by this reasoning as the rakyat wants trains but the rakyat is also not taking trains. Grrrrrrr.)
And then, you’re welcome.
Looks like Probability #2 is right. The AFC is available again on Ekspres Rakyat Timuran.
Probability #3: KTM is changing a rake out
Pre-COVID, there are actually 3 rakes for the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran – 2 for daily use, and 1 spare. If there is a spare rake, and I’m thinking there is especially with the abundance of ASC (Hyundai-Padu Sedia) coaches now that the Shuttle Timuran trains are using the new 61 Class DMU instead, the spare rake may not have an AFC attached, so ticket sales are on hold first. And yes, pre-COVID, there was an Ekspres Rakyat Timuran rake with no AFC.
Which then goes back to Probability #1, in order to ensure that the AFC coach is available for service.
Personally, I think this is the most probable reason, considering that both up and down Ekspres Rakyat Timuran are stopping AFC ticket sales on the same day (4 November 2021), instead of 1 day later if it were meant to return the coach to either Kempas or Tumpat depot.
Yes, of course, there’s the most direct reason, which is, unsurprisingly…
Probability #4: AFC rosak
Self explanatory. But I’m hoping this isn’t the case.
There seems to be some demand for the AFC coach on Ekspres Rakyat Timuran trains when the ADNS gets sold out. The 36 seats on the AFC are also filled up significantly on such ADNS-full trains, even leaving a bulk of 240 seats on the ASC empty.
This means passengers still want comfort on overnight trains, and do not mind paying the AFC fare of about twice that of the ADNS just to get more space to stretch out on an overnight journey.
Unfortunately, border restrictions remain restricted, so I can’t just make a day trip up to Kempas Baru to see what’s in the sidings and spot the reason there and then.
Let’s see what happens on 5 November 2021, and then I’ll update this article if there are any developments.