KUALA LUMPUR: Women who were worried about pickpockets, sex fiends and thieves on board Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) commuter trains can now ride with confidence on board new ladies only coaches.
Introduced yesterday, the "Ladies Coach" was to curb cases of sexual harassment and theft which have been plaguing KTMB for years.
Most of the cases take place during the rush-hour crush in coaches.
For now, the "Ladies Coach" is available on the Sentul-Port Klang route, which runs every 15 to 30 minutes from dawn till midnight daily.
The women-only coaches will be extended to the Rawang-Seremban route on May 15.
The special coaches will carry large pink stickers with the message, "Ladies only at all times". The stickers will also be put up at all commuter stations.
Notwithstanding the possibility of delinquency among women passengers themselves, KTMB hoped the move would reduce the countless complaints of sexual harassment and theft on board its coaches.
"We hope with these coaches, women passengers, especially the young and elderly, can travel more comfortably and safely," said KTMB Komuter service acting general manager Mohd Hider Yusoff.
"Boys below the age of 12, accompanied by women, are also permitted to travel in these coaches."
Hider said women commuters could also opt to travel on normal coaches while male passengers who get into a "Ladies Coach" by accident would not be penalised as they might not be aware of this special facility for women.
KTMB is the first public transport provider here to give special privileges to women.
But Hider stressed that this was not a "move back to the dark ages".
"This move came about after numerous complaints from women passengers who were groped and had become victims of pickpockets and thieves," Hider said.
"We discussed these complaints at length and carried out a week-long survey on the viability of having a special coach for women.
"We received good response and are confident of reducing the number of complaints drastically, if not completely eradicating the problem."
He said that cost wise, it was practical to have the "Ladies Coach" as more than 60 per cent of the company's passengers were women.
Hider said KTMB had also received complaints from male passengers, especially tourists, who had reported theft of valuables such as laptops, wallets and mobile phones.
On the possibility of stationing plainclothes rail marshals on board the commuter trains, Hider said auxilliary policemen were already on board.
Investigations by KTMB revealed that most of the culprits on the trains were foreigners from neighbouring countries.
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