The Ekspres Selatan was created out of necessity due to the split of ETS services on the newer electrified double track sectors and KTM Intercity services on the older non-electrified single track sectors, forcing commuters to change trains at Gemas to travel between southern destinations and the cities on the electrified double track sectors including Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth and Padang Besar.
1 pair of Ekspres Selatan trains plied between JB Sentral and Pulau Sebang (Tampin), which uses a part of the electrified double track sectors, instead of terminating at Gemas, offering a less hectic option for those heading to and from Batang Melaka and Pulau Sebang (Tampin), and also somewhat providing a cheaper KTM Komuter alternative to train travel as opposed to paying for an ETS ticket.
From 1 September 2016, however, the 40up and 41dn Ekspres Selatan operated with refurbished BSC coaches which were stranded and damaged during the Kelantan floods in 2014. The train was formed of 7 Japanese-donated Blue Train coaches consisting of 5 BSC coaches and 2 BDNS coaches as a power generator, hauled by Hitachi-made 23 Class locomotive 23109 Ikhlas with much grandeur, forming a full Japanese consist.
The 41dn Ekspres Selatan crossing with another consist of Eastern and Oriental Express coaches at Kluang, also made in Japan.
Less than 2 months later, the consist was shortened possibly due to maintenance issues for both the locomotive and coaches. 2 of the newly-refurbished BSC coaches were taken out of service with 1 BDNS, with 1 BSC coach swapped out with another that was not affected by the floors and operated on the previous Shuttle 61dn and 62up.
23109 Ikhlas was not seen again.
Inside the old but very comfortable BSC coaches.
Remnants of the coaches’s past are still visible both on the interior and exterior of the train.
The 40up and 41dn Ekspres Selatan is the last KTM Intercity train to ply on the electrified double-track sectors. Smooth and comfortable, these tracks definitely made the Blue Train coaches feel as if they are back at home.
Even the height of the coach’s door and the platforms on the electrified double-track sectors are a perfect fit.
Though diesel-hauled trains are now being phased out of the electrified double-track sectors, with priority given to the modern electric trains for ETS and KTM Komuter services.
The 40up Ekspres Selatan departing Pulau Sebang (Tampin), returning as the 41dn Ekspres Selatan. On 31 January 2017, less than 9 months since the Ekspres Selatan service commenced, this train will be the last regular KTM Intercity train to ply on the electrified double-track sector, and all current Ekspres Selatan trains plying between JB Sentral and Gemas will be renamed to “Shuttle“, matching the actual service currently provided by the “Ekspres” Selatan, which actually makes stops at all stations in service and has no in-train catering service.
In the last timetable in 2011 before the closure of the Singapore sector, the Ekspres Rakyat departed Tanjong Pagar Railway Station at 8.00am and arrived in KL Sentral at 2.45pm, a single journey of 6 hours and 45 minutes from the heart of Singapore direct to the transport hub of Kuala Lumpur.
The Shuttle Tebrau x Ekspres Selatan x ETS Gold combination today requires you to board the 8.00am Shuttle Tebrau from Woodlands CIQ, which is literally at the Causeway, change to the Ekspres Selatan 40up or 42up to Pulau Sebang (Tampin) or Gemas, and then change to the ETS Gold 9202up to get to KL Sentral, arriving at 5.11pm, a journey time of 9 hours and 11 minutes.
Somehow, in the context of rail transport in Malaysia, with modernisation comes inconvenience and slower journeys.
Goodbye Ekspres Selatan.