Day 39: KTM Komuter from Padang Besar to Butterworth

This post is about the travel experience onboard the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

Click here to visit the dedicated KTM Komuter Northern Sector information page.

The Special Express 35/36 (International Express) is no longer in operation.

Replacing its timetable will be the new Thaksinarath running between Bangkok and Hat Yai with new CRRC-manufactured coaches. Through service between Bangkok and Padang Besar will be served by the new Special Express 45/46 (Thaksin Express) using 2 ANS40 coaches.

After clearing Thai and Malaysia immigration and customs after disembarking from the Special Express 35, we waited in the waiting room for our train’s departure at 10.25am.

Isn’t it supposed to be 10am you may ask?

Well, as of an unknown date in May, KTM stopped providing a locomotive for the Special Express 35, transhipping passengers by a KTM Komuter Class 83 EMU instead.

At around 10.15am, we were called to board the “International Express” to Butterworth.

UPDATE: Since 1 September 2016, SRT officially sells tickets only up to Padang Besar, removing such confusion when KTM is no longer hauling the SRT coaches into Malaysia.

This is our new Special Express 35 from Padang Besar to Butterworth. I asked a staff why was this the case (pretending that I didn’t know about it). Guess what his reply was.

“Sekarang Malaysia maju, tak pakai diesel lagi macam Siam. Sekarang semua elektrik.”
(maju = progress)

I couldn’t believe my ears. It was extremely insulting.

Pardon my lack of understanding for modern electrification but I don’t see anything maju about getting onto a train with no toilets, sitting sideways for 2 hours, and most importantly, no Jai on board.

Oh, not to mention the KTM Intercity line from Woodlands CIQ to Tumpat is still on non-elecrified single track, macam Siam.

Who is this all-important Jai I speak of?

Remember this caterer I blogged about before? You can read about it here and here.

Jai (or Ah Chai) is your on-board money changer, waiter, restaurant, ticket counter and SIM card and top-up dealer. He provides all these services single-handedly and even operates a 24-hour mobile hotline if you need any train-related services before or after your trip. In short, he is your miracle worker for the next 2 hours and beyond.

No Jai also means no sandwich set, a lot of Baht left with me as I planned to change some with him to Ringgit and no essence of the International Express any more.

The SRT locomotive which hauled the Special Express 35 from Bangkok behind our “new, maju Special Express 35″. If only this locomotive could continue down south onwards to Butterworth. The coaches are probably stabled in Padang Besar (Thai) now.

I met Jai on the platform anyway, and apparently he remembers me. Well, I did want to change money with him, since he said he couldn’t make any food as there are no power sockets in the KTM train, and he told me that he’ll come around the train on the way to Butterworth.

He never made it on to the train. Guess KTM didn’t allow him on board as compared to the SRT coaches.

When the train departed, I realised that we were actually sharing the train with other non-International Express passengers as well. And thankfully I got a seat. Some of the Special Express 35 passengers had to stand all the way from Padang Besar to Butterworth as they were late in boarding the train. 2 groups even missed it, so they have to probably wait for the next train in 2 hours time.

As of 1 June 2016, KTM has actually stopped providing a dedicated train, transhipping passengers via an ordinary KTM Komuter Northern Sector service instead. Welcome onboard the Special Express 35 KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2957dn from Padang Besar to Butterworth.

I was pissed.

Some changes seen along my “grand” welcome back to Malaysia includes the increase of frequency of the KTM Komuter Northern Sector (which is maju in itself, yes, but NOT when downgrading an entire train to it) and the renaming of Arau to Stesen Diraja Arau with the transfer of ownership of the station to the Raja of Perlis.

Turning away from the main line into Bukit Mertajam and Butterworth.

Crossing the Prai swing bridge to Butterworth.

Arrived at Butterworth 12 minutes late from 2957dn schedule.

Now for the price breakdown:

Price I paid from Bangkok to Butterworth: ฿1210 (S$47.27)

Price I could have paid from Bangkok to Padang Besar: ฿960
Price I could have paid from Padang Besar to Butterworth: RM11.40 (฿100, rounding up)
Price I could have paid with separate tickets from Bangkok to Butterworth: ฿1060

Price I overpaid as I got downgraded by KTM: ฿150 (S$5.86)

Yeah it may not be a lot considering the distance, but it’s about the principle of the downgrade maju. And since travelling within Bangkok costs ฿2, I could technically take 75 trips from Bangkok to Sukhumvit 71 with that one overcharge KTM gave me.

Welcome back, indeed.

UPDATE: Since 1 September 2016, SRT officially sells tickets only up to Padang Besar, removing such confusion when KTM is no longer hauling the SRT coaches into Malaysia.

Butterworth station’s waiting area. I was still pretty early for my ETS to Kuala Lumpur, but I decided against taking the ferry to Penang Island for lunch as I may actually miss the ETS if the ferry frequency isn’t fast enough.

I saw at least two passengers from Bangkok enquiring (in the loose sense of the word, more like banging the table) why did they get downgraded to the KTM Komuter. Guess they were regulars with KTM, but probably not regular enough to know that there’s nothing they can do about it.

At Butterworth once again.

I had Nasi Kandar at a stall a short walk away from the station. Since I’m in Penang, I have to eat Penang food right for the full experience right? It was more of a crash course though.

After lunch, I came straight back to the station to play the waiting game once more.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

Click here to visit the dedicated KTM Komuter Northern Sector information page.


7 thoughts on “Day 39: KTM Komuter from Padang Besar to Butterworth

  1. Kai says:

    Hi, I’ll be taking this train from Bangkok next week, and does it mean I’ll have to buy a separate ticket at Padang Besar for the rest of the journey to Butterworth?

    I booked my ticket through 12Go Asia months ago and didn’t realise the new arrangement until now.

    By the way, I’ve just started reading your journey from London to Singapore, it’s very informative and readable, thank you and I envy you.

  2. Kai says:

    Thank you for your reply. I am yet to collect my ticket, but the voucher I got from 12Go is with Butterworth as destination. I guess I better check and ask when I collect the ticket.

  3. Pattama says:

    I would like to travel from Had yai to Butterworth ( then use ferry to Penang) , should I buy ticket 1. Had yai to Padang Besar and 2. Padang Besar to Butterworth? , can I book by e-ticket?

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