Ekspres Rakyat Timuran: Johor Bahru to Tumpat by Train

The Ekspres Rakyat Timuran is the successor of the Senandung Timuran, plying the JB Sentral – Tumpat route after the repair works of the Kemubu bridge was completed in May 2016. It travels across Peninsular Malaysia via the East Coast Line, also known to tourists as the Jungle Railway.

Being a night train, sufficient Superior Night coaches are attached. There were 6 coaches on my train, offering 240 berths – and that’s just for sleeper passengers.

My berth for this trip.

The whole line from JB Sentral to Tumpat is on a single track. Hence, the train sometimes wait for the opposing train to arrive at the station before being able to proceed. At Kempas Baru, the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran crosses with the Ekspres Selatan from Pulau Sebang (Tampin).

An Economy Class coach is attached, offering low fares for travel on the Ekspres Rakyat Timuran.


A surau is also located inside this coach for Muslims who wish to pray during the journey.

A buffet coach is also available if you wish to purchase food and drinks.

The train makes a slightly long stop of about half an hour at Gemas to change crew. Gemas also marks the start of the East Coast Line.

The train makes a stop at Gua Musang, where majestic limestone hills can be seen from the train.

The Ekspres Rakyat Timuran in front of a limestone hill.

The station master prepares to hand the driver the token for the onward section.

Dabong – a typical rural station design on the East Coast Line, but a major stop along the line.

My converted seat for the daytime section of this journey.

The train arrives at Tumpat, which is the end of the East Coast Line. The beach is just ahead, but cannot be seen from the station due to the houses in front of it, nor is it really attractive for a visit anyway.

The locomotive decouples from the train while passengers are alighting and enters the headshunt.

It then heads to the other end of the train to shunt the rake back to the yard to prepare it for its next journey.

The northern-most buffer stop along the East Coast Line, also signifying the end of the line.

There are not much things to do around Tumpat, aside from being able to hold the claim that you have travelled across the entire length of the East Coast Line, or if you would like to visit Pengkalan Kubor about 10 kimoleters away for cheap shopping or to cross over to Tak Bai in Thailand.

The only major touristy town near the northern end is Kota Bharu, which is not directly served by the railway. The nearest station to it is Wakaf Bharu, where you can get a bus or taxi to the main town of Kota Bharu, around 6 kilometers away. Buses and taxis to Kota Bharu are also available at Tumpat, but are not readily available and is distance-wise further away from Kota Bharu than Wakaf Bharu.

Other stations of interest along the East Coast Line include Jerantut for Taman Negara, and Pasir Mas for the nearest access to Rantau Panjang about 22 kilometers away and onwards to Sungai Golok in Thailand.

Visit the dedicated Ekspres Rakyat Timuran page for more service information.

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