In Jan 2011, I decided to take a trip down memory lane.
I bought a ticket at the Seremban Railway station for a trip to Tumpat, Kelantan.
The last time I took a train was some 40 years ago, in the 1970s. At that time road transportation to Kelantan was poor. Some stretches had to use a ferry because there was no bridge.
If one wished to travel to Kelantan via the Bentong-Raub route, the road service ended in Kuala Lipis.
From there, the car was loaded into a railway carriage and then one had to travel as a passenger on the train and disembark at Kuala Krai.
At the Seremban Railway station, what I saw was totally unexpected.
After 40 years you would have thought things would be different.
For me it was as if time had stood still. Things around the station and the ticketing office had not changed.
Long queues stretched for a few metres waiting to buy their tickets while two other counters remain vacant.
A sign said the person in charge of selling inter-city tickets had gone for lunch at 12.30pm and would resume work at 2.00pm.
I was there at 1.00pm, which meant I and several others had to wait for an hour for the ticketing clerk to finish his lunch and resume his duties.
If there were inter-city trains coming in, we could only stare in dismay.
Meanwhile, there was still a long queue waiting to buy the Komuter tickets.
A Komuter train came ,stopped and left while passengers could only watched in frustration, stuck in the long slow queue.
Being unable to buy their ticket when the train came, they could only hope to get their tickets before the next train arrived.
On boarding the train for my journey to Kelantan I was in for another shock. Nothing in the cabin train which I had booked had changed from decades ago.
The inside of the cabin had seen better times and probably should have been sent to a museum.
The journey was anything but smooth. It was jerky and bumpy. It was something you least expected when travelling in the 21st century.
And if you were to compare the experience of travelling in a modern train service of Japan or even China, you wouldn't want to travel in a Malaysian train.
A journey that normally takes eight hours of leisurely driving by car took me more than 12 hours by train.
KTM needs to totally revamp its management from top to bottom if it really wants to improve its bottom line.
It cannot hope to plod along and hope to improve on its performance if the mentality and culture of running a railway corporation is still mired in the 20th century.