this, is the old conventional railway system that has been the backbone of the malaysian transportation for the past century. beaten and unreliable, keretapi tanah melayu (ktmb) needs a complete revamp, fast!
to reach alor star from kuala lumpur by train, it takes 12-14 hours. snail pace by today's standards.
a single line (track) runs across the country, serving both the south bound train and the north bound train. imagine the lost-time when a train has to stop by the station to give passage way to the train coming from the opposite direction. hence, the need for a double tracking railway system, that has a dedicated track for each direction.
over the past decade, ktmb (the national train operator) has upgraded their locomotive. their flagship being the "blue tiger" loco. these massively powerful engines can churn out the power to pull 80 carriages at speeds of up to 160km/h!!! compare that to the conventional locos, which could only pull a measly 30-40 carriages.
alas, conventional rails are still founded on wooden sleepers, and the rail itself is inadequate to sustain the dynamic loading imposed by the speed and weight of a modern locomotive, the malaysian "blue tigers" are being grossly under-utilized until today, despite being put into service years ago!
this, my friends, is an electrified railway track. the most obvious difference is that you can see overhead cables running parallel above the track. these cable supply the electricity that propels the electric-trains, ie komuter EMU.
to give added strength to the railway tracks to sustain the load and capacity of the modern locomotives, the steel rails are substantially larger and tougher than the old ones. these rails are also founded on pre-stressed concrete sleepers instead of wooden ones. there is another trick to making a modern railway track, tho many would not understand the reasons behind this, and that is the steel rails are pre-stressed, and locked in tension. don't worry, i will share this information in my future entry.
earthworks, is probably the biggest chunk of work that we have to bite into. earthworks include the deforestation, stripping of earth, excavation of soil, and eventually the build up of the track embankment.
a bulldozer at work.
and some times, the clearing comes awfully close to people's backyards. this is of course the source of many concerns and complaints.
why do we need earthwork at the first place?
first, earthwork is like formatting your hard disk. you clear everything up within your boundary, and prepare a fresh canvas to start afresh.
secondly, the ground condition where we intend to have our embankment built is undesirable. too soft, too much organic matter, waterlogged, etc. so earthwork clears of of these unsuitable materials.
thirdly, earthwork carves the ground to the required dimensions and details. too high a slope? cut it away. too deep a trench? fill it up.
usually what follows after earthworks, is ground treatment. i shall elaborate further in my following entry. but a brief introduction on ground treatment......
ground treatment involves the methods of improving the strength of the ground. every element that sits on top of the ground, will exert a pressure on the ground. if the pressure is higher than what the ground can support, then the thing will sink into the ground, like this....
there are numerous methods of improving the ground condition. the controlling factors being the feasibility of such treatment, and ultimately the cost implication. best results at the cheapest price.
interesting things happen at site.
snakes are everywhere......many are caught and released.
animals, both domestic and wild roam freely all over the place. and the unfortunate ones caught in the head light of an oncoming train usually die a horrible death. there was this particular week sometime not too long ago, that had us wondering what have the cows been eating? 5 cows were killed by the train that week itself. i had a good look at the anatomy of a cow, i now know where my favorite cuts of meat is located in a cow.
*this one had it's head smashed up coz it attempted to copulate with one of my men's finger.
zipping around jungle clearings mean encounters with insects are aplenty; giant centipedes, millipedes, spiders, grasshoppers, etc.
gunung jerai of gurun. not bad for a work place eh?