KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2L: Jakarta Gambir to Surabaya Pasar Turi by Luxury Sleeper Train – The Best Train Seat in ASEAN

For this Indonesia trip, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to try out what could arguably be the most discussed topic of Indonesian railways in 2018 – Indonesia’s first “sleeper train”. While I did not get into Jakarta in time to get the promotional fares, my journey on the Luxury Sleeper Train on the full fare was done when most of the launching kinks were already straightened out, making it possibly the best daytime premium train experience I ever had in my life.

Despite being on Indonesia’s most luxurious train seat today, I got to Gambir by TransJakarta BRT. I might be splurging on this trip, but I ain’t stupid to get a Grab or taxi during the morning peak hours.

The South Concourse of Gambir Railway Station. Boarding procedures are as per normal.

Check-in in for my train ride at the CIC kiosks. I purchased my ticket through Tiket.com as usual since PT KAI does not accept foreign credit cards on their website.

Printing out my boarding pass.

My boarding pass for my Luxury Sleeper Train experience on board KA Argo Bromo Anggrek Luxury 2L. The train number is also different from the normal KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2, possibly due to the Luxury Sleeper Train being operated by PT KA Pariwisata, a subsidiary of PT KAI.

Getting my boarding pass checked against my passport to enter the platform area.

Heading up to the platforms.

The Argo Bromo Anggrek departs from Platform 1 or 2. Take the escalator up.

The actual platform will be shown at the top end of the escalator.

The KA Cirebon Ekspres 67 arriving into Gambir. Look at that immaculately clean CC203.

My KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2 and KA Argo Bromo Anggrek Luxury 2L arriving from Jakarta Kota Depot.

My Luxury Sleeper Train coach is at the front of the train. It’s pretty easy to identify the Luxury Sleeper Train coach as it’s the only stainless steel coach among the K9 bogie rake.

Passengers boarding the KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2.

Heading to the front of the train.

My KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2 and KA Argo Bromo Anggrek Luxury 2L is headed by CC 206 13 36 of Sidotopo Locomotive Depot.

Boarding my KA Argo Bromo Anggrek Luxury 2L.

The interior of the Luxury Sleeper Train with the stewardess leading me to my seat. Seats are in a modified reverse herringbone arrangement in a 1+1 configuration, with both sides facing opposite directions of travel.

My seat 4A on board the Luxury Sleeper Train.

A blanket and eyeshade is provided on the seat, despite this being a daytime journey. The blanket would prove useful around halfway through the trip with the cold air-conditioning.

Despite the ridiculously premium fares which is more than double that of regular budget airline fares (not even promo fares), the Luxury Sleeper Train ran 100% full from Gambir.

Now for a quick tour around my seat.

The view from my seat is pretty straightforward with the touchscreen Android-based entertainment system and the foot cubby.

A personal waste bin is also provided on the aisle side.

Now for the impressive suite of functions.

All functions of the seat are electrically controlled, including the seat recline and calf rest position. The right-most arrow buttons are to set it into flat-bed mode and fully upright mode.

A reading lamp is provided, which was really powerful, illuminating my seat up even in the daytime.

Powerful, but I think it might be a bit too bright for my liking should this be a night train.

A universal power socket and USB socket is available on the small side table.

A locker is also provided to store your valuables in.

A mirror is provided behind the locker door, which aligns well to your face when the seat is in the upright position.

A USB charging socket is also provided in the locker.

That also means, in the small space of the side table. there are 3 power sockets for each seat.

The reading light is really powerful to illuminate my entire seating area.

The empty area below the cubby is useful to store my shoes later on in the journey.

As the train pulls away from Gambir, all staff on the platform regardless of job or rank face the train to thank every passenger. The Argo Bromo Anggrek 2 departed from Gambir at 9.34am – 54 minutes late.

There is plenty of legroom on board with the seat in the upright position, with my feet unable to reach the cubby.

The touchscreen entertainment system on every seat.

A coat hanger is available by the aisle.

My preferred seat position for the day journey to enjoy the scenery.

My kind of scenery – watching the development of Manggarai Sentral.

Manggarai Sentral taking shape.

On my first attempt at reclining, the seat managed to recline up to this much. Hmm, this doesn’t look like it’s a fully flat bed to me.

Disclaimer: I realized later on that this position was where the seat got jammed up when I was fiddling with the electric buttons and it reclined further after a few ups and downs – thankfully I decided to play with the seat.

The immense personal space available on the Luxury Sleeper Train.

In this almost-flat position, I could rest my feet on the cubby comfortably.

The new viaducts leading from Manggarai Sentral to Jatinegara.

On top of the side table, there is a fold-out table to have your meal or to catch up on work.

The function of this fold-out table is quite simple, just pull it up and flip it down.

The table is a little bit small and towards the side  for my liking though, would have preferred one which folds in the middle and stretches across the entire seat.

Most shows in the entertainment system are in Bahasa Indonesia. However, there are a bunch of PT KAI ads loaded in too.

Here’s an ad for the Luxury Sleeper Train just for inception purposes.

The video ad for the Luxury Sleeper Train.

There is a live GPS location loaded into the system too, but I think it hung for a while here.

Inside the Makanan/Minuman folder, there are 3 sub-folders entitled Amazing Japan, Beautiful Taiwan and Makanan Indonesia. Hmm, is this the menu for today?

Sakura blossoms and shopping streets – nope, I don’t think this is the menu.

After the electrified double-track area, the scenery gives way to rural Indonesia.

Approximately one hour into the journey, the complimentary meal was served by the stewardess.

Each passenger receives a main course of crispy fried chicken with rice and keropok, a box of orange juice, a passion fruit pudding and two small bottles of mineral water.

My brunch for today.

The meal was served warm, and it’s probably best to eat it immediately so as to keep the chicken crispy. Tasted reasonably fine for a complimentary meal.

The Luxury Sleeper Train fits just 18 passengers in a single coach, as compared with PT KAI’s highest density Ekonomi coaches at 106 passengers before standing allowance.

The toilet is also laid out different from other coaches, with it not encroaching into the passenger saloon and taking up a door’s space on the borders.

With this new layout, it was quite easy to access.

The toilet is probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen on board PT KAI trains.

The sink area also allows for toiletries to be placed on the counter, as compared with the typical small corner sink on other trains.

Surprisingly, more than half of the passengers did sleep for most of the daytime journey on the Luxury Sleeper Train.

Looking down the aisle of the Luxury Sleeper Train.

Making an unscheduled stop at Jatibarang Railway Station, probably because the track ahead is not clear.

I wish the sides of the Luxury Sleeper Train was more polished than to have the rivets visible.

A freight train in the opposing direction confirms my suspicions.

A short headlight flash and wave from the driver as a greeting.

The freight train was pretty long, but I didn’t actually count the number of attached wagons.

Most of it were running empty though.

The train departed after the freight train has fully entered the station, making the total stopping duration of my train at Jatibarang 8 minutes.

Pulling into Cirebon, the first scheduled stop of the Argo Bromo Anggrek from Gambir.

The Argo Jati Stainless Steel in the opposing direction.

The train arrived at Cirebon at 12.37pm – 28 minutes delayed from schedule. The delayed departure from Gambir and unscheduled stop at Jatibarang was probably the key cause of it, including the extra time needed to slow the train to a stop and to accelerate again.

Here, a crew change (driver and fireman) takes place.

The Taksaka Stainless Steel pulling into Cirebon on time. So many rapid improvements on Java, but so little time (possibly impossible) to cover them all.

The new Kereta Makan Stainless Steel with a wider door.

The exterior of the new Stainless Steel coaches.

The train departed from Cirebon at 12.41pm – 26 minutes delayed from schedule.

Passing by Cirebon Prujakan, the junction station to Purwokerto and thereafter to Kroya on the southern line.

After departure, it was good time for lunch.

I pressed the call button to ask the stewardess if the Reska people will be coming through the Luxury Sleeper Train or only serving the Eksekutif coaches, and she went to call the Reska staff and their trolley immediately to my seat.

I thought that was a bit too good of a service, way more than I bargained for, since I might have single-handedly disrupted the meal service for the rest of the train behind me. Sorry everyone.

With new food loaded up at Cirebon, I opted to have a station-exclusive meal of Empal Gentong on the Reska’s staff recommendations for Rp.33,000 (~S$3.19).

Empal gentong is a soto-like dish, eaten with rice.

Not sure if I’m doing this right, but I decided to mix everything together since I’m not exactly a fan of plain white rice.

The outcome was a porridge-like beef stew which was reasonably tasty for in-train non-microwaved food.

After lunch and as the air-conditioning got colder, I pulled out the blanket from the packaging to test out the “flat bed” seat, and I napped for about an hour.

I was awoken by the sound of plates coming through the aisle, and it turns out there is a mid-journey snack of potato chips.

The train pulled into Pekalongan shortly after the chips service at 2.23pm – 34 minutes delayed from schedule.

Here’s how the seat looks like fully flattened. It still isn’t a fully flat bed, probably somewhere between a 160 to 170 degrees recline, which was pretty good for a seat.

With the seat fully reclined, there was still a bit of leg room in the cubby, which means that there’s quite a good “bed length” for this seat.

I wish the cubby extended out a little to cover this awkward gap between the seat and cubby though, and to make the fully reclined seat look like a flushed product with the space in front.

The scenery after Pekalongan station.

The GPS also starts working again and moves in real time.

Passing by Semarang Poncol Locomotive Depot with the Rail Clinic stabling inside.

Entering Semarang Tawang Railway Station.

The train arrived at Semarang Tawang at 3.35pm – 36 minutes delayed from schedule.

The train departed from Semarang Tawang at 3.41pm – 32 minutes delayed from schedule.

Departing from Semarang Tawang on a curve.

Passing by a Pertamina Depot.

I got to the entertainment system again and watched a few videos about Japan.

The sunset from the Luxury Sleeper Train.

About 40 minutes before arrival into Surabaya Pasar Turi, there is a hot towel service to freshen up before arrival. Amazing.

A cup of Specialty Coffee and Jasmine Tea each were also distributed to everyone as a goodbye gift.

However, I opted to have my tea immediately so as to not carry too much stuff with me on this train-only journey, and the stewardess went off to help me get hot water without hesitation.

Arriving into Surabaya Pasar Turi.

The train arrived at Surabaya Pasar Turi at 6.58pm – 28 minutes delayed from schedule. This has been the longest delay I’ve ever experienced with PT KAI, but with such a comfortable seat and the premium fare that I paid where the journey is the destination, I actually enjoyed this delay.

Looking back at my seat in nighttime mode.

This might make for a good night’s sleep, but the cost is too high for me to spend all hours on it sleeping.

Thank you Luxury Sleeper Train, you truly lived up to your name. However, the cost might be a little too high for me to ride on it regularly.

The KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2 and KA Argo Bromo Anggrek Luxury 2L stopped at Track 2, and the next rake for the KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 3 was blocking at Track 1, so I walked through the other train to get to the station building.

Finally made it to Surabaya Pasar Turi. Despite the delay, I had some time to spare at the station before my next train back to Jakarta.

Heading to the station exit.

Hmm, I’m not sure what this map is even trying to describe.

Lots of drivers hang around outside to solicit your onward transportation business. You should walk out of the station to get a taxi or online ride hail.

Here, I walked out of the station just a little to hopefully find dinner before getting back quickly to check-in for my next train back to Jakarta.

Overall, the Luxury Sleeper Train is an amazing product for a daytime journey with all frills provided with a wide personal space. However, I don’t fully agree with the official name of “Luxury Sleeper Train” as after all, the product is still a seat. As such, I will rate this journey as a seating train rather than a proper night sleeper train. Bearing this in mind, this to me is probably the best train seat in ASEAN and possibly the world.

An amazing improvement and feat by PT KAI especially when the views of atap-ers and stuff being loaded through windows which were a common sight 5 years ago are all gone, and premium services form a significant part of the railway’s profit now.

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5 thoughts on “KA Argo Bromo Anggrek 2L: Jakarta Gambir to Surabaya Pasar Turi by Luxury Sleeper Train – The Best Train Seat in ASEAN

  1. Derri Rahmadhi says:

    This “luxury” coach is anything but indonesia’s first “sleeper” train (like you said, it’s not even a sleeper) …
    True sleeper trains with beds had been around since the time of Dutch East Indies in the 1930s and early 40s. The most famous one was the true luxurious sleeper “Java Nacht Express connecting Batavia and Soerabaja. Sleeper trains were also around during Republican era until mid 90s .
    Perhaps the most famous and most remembered sleeper train of Indonesia was Bima Bima consisted of first and second class sleeper coaches until late 80s before it was slowly converted to all seat executive train which we see today. While it wasn’t as luxurious as the Dutch Java Nacht Express, Bima was at that time attached with true sleeper coaches. The couchette coaches were still attached to Senja Utama Solo until the 90s.

  2. Terry says:

    Did this trip last month and enjoyed it but I don’t feel the cost of the luxury ticket, 1.4 million rupiah is worth it. Served breakfast only throughout the 9 hour journey and no tea/coffee. The breakfast was very bland – worst breakfast I have ever had. Seats were comfortable. Only the seats felt part of the “luxury” experience. Catering needs to be improved given the price of the ticket and the long journey from Gambir to Surabaya.

    • RailTravel Station says:

      It’s relative to everyone’s home country I guess. For the local low- to no-income earners, a normal Ekonomi class ticket from Jakarta to Surabaya could cost just Rp.165,000, so the Luxury Sleeper Train is almost 10 times that normal cost.

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