Melaka Monorail – Monorail Themepark & Studios (MTS): A Round Around the Monorail Loop from Tun Ali Station to Tun Ali Station by Train

The Melaka Monorail is Melaka’s only rail-based transportation system which ferries people leisurely around the Melaka River near Kampung Morten. I use the words leisurely and around as the Melaka Monorail only has one operational station at Tun Ali, and the 2.5km journey around the elevated loop takes 23 minutes to complete.

After the Springfield Monorail (from The Simpsons) was completed (and destroyed) on 14 January 1993, Lyle Lanley probably came to Melaka to set up his next “genuine, bonafide, electrified 6 3-car monorail” project. The Melaka Monorail first opened on 21 October 2010, which broke down a few hours after the opening, and soon ceased operations some time in 2011.

The Melaka Monorail has since been revived since 4 December 2017, and is now known as Monorail Themepark & Studios (MTS). However, so as to not overly glorify it, I shall still refer to it as the Melaka Monorail instead of MTS throughout this article.

The entrance to the only operational station, Tun Ali Station. This is also the entrance to Monorail Themepark & Studios and so happens to be the only ride in the whole theme park.

To purchase a ticket for the Melaka Monorail, head up to Level 1 for the ticket counters.

The ticket counters are at the end of the hall. It seems that the Melaka Monorail has prepared for large crowds with enough seats for two and a half train loads here.

The geographical route map of the Melaka Monorail.

The fare table of the Melaka Monorail beside the ticket counters.

My RM20 ticket as an adult foreigner for this trip. (And to those who do not really believe that I’m not a Malaysian, here’s proof.)

Up at Level 2 on the platform level. Here, there are even more seats for another two train loads of waiting passengers.

However, luck was on my side that I need not join in the seating queue for four and a half train loads as I’m the only passenger on board.

A staff will be waiting at the end of the queue line to check for tickets. She also took away the A and B portions of my ticket, presumably used for making stops at the disused Hang Jebat and Hang Tuah Stations en route.

I’d wanted to ride on the front car, but the gate to it was closed, with the staff citing aircon problems as the reason.

Heading into the middle car as guided. Note the minimal platform gap with the additional plate on the platform.

The interior of the middle car of the Melaka Monorail. Each train car seats 8 passengers, so with this 3-car train, there is a total capacity of 24 passengers. Unfortunately, as the train is not of a walk-through design, I had only 8 seats to myself instead of 24.

Departing from Tun Ali Station.

Running through the outer signal with it not changing when the train has passed by it. Hmm.

The Melaka Monorail maintenance shed is located just after Tun Ali Station. Here’s the maintenance vehicle in the old Melaka Monorail livery instead of being plain yellow.

And here’s the original Melaka Monorail set. Doesn’t look like it’s going to be moving out of the shed any time soon.

The interior of the train seems like it’s still in place.

Good thing I didn’t enter Tun Ali Station via this entrance as the rusting train isn’t the most welcoming sight to Monorail Themepark & Studios.

The Melaka Monorail train car is equipped with an emergency hammer to break glass (though I wouldn’t recommend jumping out of the train at height), an intercom to speak to the operator (presumably driver), an emergency door key (again, wouldn’t recommend jumping out of the train) and CCTV.

Typical restrictions are in place such as smoking and pets being not allowed, but with No No Food and No No Drinks as an instruction, do they mean that food and drinks must be brought on board?

Heading towards the Melaka River.

Crossing over the Hang Jebat Bridge.

The northern terminus of the Melaka River Cruise is on the right.

The ride was somehow quite bumpy, which makes it quite difficult for photos of tight corners like this.

The Spice Garden (Taman Rempah) Jetty of the Melaka River Cruise.

Bypassing Hang Jebat Station.

Bypassing the danger signal outside Hang Jebat Station. Seems like the signalling system is either not in operation yet or the signal lights are just there for decorative purposes with no actual signalling system installed.

Continuing on down south along the Melaka River on the original 1.6km alignment.

Continuing south towards Hang Tuah Station.

Kampung Morten on the right.

Making a u-turn along with the Melaka River around Kampung Morten.

Looking at Hang Tuah Station on the left.

Looping around The Shore Melaka.

Below is where a supposed Melaka River Cruise jetty is, but it’s currently not in operation either.

Approaching Hang Tuah Station.

Passing by Datuk Mohd Zin Bridge, one of the newer bridges over the Melaka River.

The emptied-out Hang Tuah Station.

Leaving Hang Tuah Station. Here, you can see the point where the original alignment merges with this new extension.

Crossing the Melaka River again over the monorail bridge adjacent to the Datuk Mohd Zin Bridge.

Passing by Melaka River Pirate Park on the left. It would be good if this was incorporated into Monorail Themepark & Studios, at least there would be more than one ride.

The Old Bus Station Bridge beside Melaka River Pirate Park.

The Shore Melaka from across the Melaka River.

Getting overtaken by a Melaka River Cruise boat.

A bit of zig-zag here to avoid existing structures on the street level.

Looking up at The Shore Sky Tower, the tallest observatory deck in Melaka.

Passing along Jalan Hang Tuah.

Seems like every other vehicle is faster than the Melaka Monorail, including a bicycle.

Passing by Jalan Tun Ali Food Court.

Approaching the entrance to Monorail Themepark & Studios.

Rumbling above the entrance to Monorail Themepark & Studios.

Approaching back at Tun Ali Station.

Still wondering what this structure is or was, standing in the middle of Monorail Themepark & Studios.

The station staff will open the gates as the monorail pulls in to the station.

Managed to get a shot of the rear car.

The rear driving cab of the Melaka Monorail. Seems that the train is capable of travelling in the reverse direction, despite the line being a uni-directional loop.

The exit is located at the front of the train.

Closing the gates once again since there are no other passengers after me.

There was a green screen at the start of the ride for souvenir photos to be taken, but no one was there to take any. Not that I was interested in it at all anyway, would have just said no.

The commemorative plaque for the reinstatement of the Melaka Monorail dated 22 December 2017.

Overall, while I had wanted to get on the Melaka Monorail the moment it opened in December 2017, a part of me also thought it might be good to wait a little while to see if it breaks down again, since I didn’t want to spend the rest of the time regretting my decision while getting rescued from the train by the Bomba team if it stalls. Though after waiting for a couple of months, and not actually expecting much from the Melaka Monorail in the first place, it was quite sad and disappointing anyway since the ride led to nowhere, wasn’t the smoothest ride out there and the mystery of the dubious Melaka Monorail is finally answered – albeit not 100% to what I thought it might have been.

After the trip, I really wondered what’s the point of building the Melaka Monorail anyway. But whatever the reason for building the Melaka Monorail in this area where tourists do not and perhaps cannot visit (since there aren’t stations to alight at the populated areas), I will probably never know.

Will I get on the Melaka Monorail again? I’m not sure. I think that’s enough disappointment for now.


Thai Airways TG401: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Singapore by Boeing 777-300

TG401 is the last flight of the day of Thai Airways departing from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport at 7.40pm, arriving into Singapore at 10.55pm. My flight was served by the higher-capacity Boeing 777-300, which will layover in Singapore for the night before forming TG402, the first flight of the day from Singapore.

With the late evening departure, the entire journey will be without sunlight.

My boarding pass for TG401.

Gate E5 was about a 600 meter walk from immigration.

Heading down the ramp to the gate hold room.

HS-TKF ready for my flight back to Singapore.

Pillows and blankets were laid out on the seat for this “night flight”. However, I returned my blanket to the stewardess to free up some space on my seat.

The legroom of the Boeing 777-300.

The interior of the aft cabin from my seat.

Waiting for pushback.

Flying over the Gulf of Thailand with Chonburi on the left.

Dinner was a choice of Green Curry Fishball with Rice or Chicken with Noodle. Not wanting to be disappointed with the non-existent curry like last time, I decided to go with the Chicken with Noodle.

(Not sure why the steward gave me two bread rolls though.)

Looks better than it tasted, but I wasn’t feeling that hungry. I enjoyed the Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Longan the most though.

Arrived at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport.

The newly expanded Arrival Hall as part of the Changi T1 expansion project has been opened. With the late arrival and the last train to the city gone, I got a Grab from here back home.

The new arrival pick-up area for Terminal 1 is located at Basement 1.

A preview of the Jewel Changi Airport facade from the new arrivals area of Terminal 1.

The new Terminal 1 Basement 1.

If you are catching a taxi, just join the queue and get on the next available one waiting outside.

If you’re Grabing, wait at the designated pick-up door which you’ve chosen on the app.

Overall, just like my initial TG402 flight, the regular Economy Class seat on the Boeing 777-300 did feel a little crammed with my carry-on bag stashed under the seat in front of me where the seat leg was encroaching into the storage space (and my legroom) and the leg rest didn’t work when folded down since my bag was in the way. But nevertheless, the IFE, meal and overall service made up for the experience. Not too bad for a short-haul flight.

Thai Airways TG402: Singapore to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi by Boeing 777-300

TG402 is the only morning flight of Thai Airways departing from Singapore at 7.40am, arriving into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport at 9.00am, and makes for one of the most time-effective ways to visit Bangkok from Singapore. This time, my flight was served by the higher-capacity Boeing 777-300.

With the upgrading works at the Departure Hall of Terminal 1, Thai Airways now uses Check-In Row 5 which has recently been renovated.

My boarding pass for the TG402 flight to Bangkok.

Walking to my gate.

HS-TKB ready for my flight to Bangkok.

The view of the interior from my seat.

The legroom available on the Boeing 777-300.

Taxiing to the runway in wet weather.

Crossing over to Malaysia just after taking-off from Changi Airport.

I wasn’t in the mood for the Asian Fried Rice, so I opted for the scrambled egg.

The scrambled egg here has improved leaps and bounds from the disaster on one of my previous flights.

Entering mainland Thailand over Rayong.

Approaching Suvarnabhumi Airport from the north.

Touched down at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The upcoming Midfield Satellite Concourse slowly taking shape.

Turning into Gate C3.

Time for the 600 meter trek to immigration.

With the long walk to immigration and the little queue there, my bags were already on the carousel when I got there.

Overall, being spoiled by the bulkhead seats on my previous TG402 flights here and here, the regular Economy Class seat on the Boeing 777-300 did feel a little crammed with my carry-on bag stashed under the seat in front of me where the seat leg was encroaching into the storage space (and my legroom) and the leg rest didn’t work when folded down since my bag was in the way. But nevertheless, the IFE, meal and overall service made up for the experience. Not too bad for a short-haul flight.

Indonesia AirAsia QZ141: Padang (Minangkabau International Airport) to Singapore (Changi Airport Terminal 4) by Airbus A320-200

Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ141 has been terminated.
There are no more non-stop flights between Singapore and Padang.

Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ141 is a new flight from Padang to Singapore, launched on 9 February 2018, departing once daily. Despite being a morning flight, I opted to fly back to Singapore on this route as it is the only non-stop flight, and with my ticket for the initial QZ140 flight from Singapore to Padang, it was cheaper to do so than to fly via KL or Batam.

Unfortunately, just like QZ140, this was also to be my last flight on board QZ141 as the flight has been terminated effective 17 May 2018. QZ141 flew for the last time on 16 May 2018.

As the departure time of QZ141 did not meet well with the Minangkabau Express schedule, I got to Minangkabau International Airport by Grab.

The terminal building of Minangkabau International Airport.

The departure area of Minangkabau International Airport was pretty simple, just a doorway to the check-in area already. As with almost all Indonesian airports, the check-in area is only for passengers.

I printed out my boarding pass at home prior to the trip, so I showed this to the guard to get in.

Not much frills around here, just a straight, 10 steps walk from the driveway to the departure check-in door, unlike the Palembang’s Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport which is of a similar size and layout but has a little bit more amenities such as a Mosque, restaurants and a Viewing Gallery.

Note: There were a couple of restaurants and snack stalls in Minangkabau International Airport too, but they were not fully open in the morning.

Once past the door, there was a round of security checks before the check-in row.

The AirAsia counters in Minangkabau International Airport were all for baggage drop only, with the kiosk on the left being out of service. Luckily, I had already printed out my boarding pass so I need not join in the queue to reprint my boarding pass at the baggage drop counter.

With no check-in baggage, I headed straight to get to the departure hall.

The departure hall is one level up from here.

Hmm, another security check? That’s 2 in less than 3 minutes. But there wasn’t much of a crowd, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Lounges are one level up after the security check.

However, since I’m not flying Business Class on premium airlines, my target was just the International Waiting Lounge. This current area is the Domestic Waiting Lounge.

To enter the International Waiting Lounge, I needed to pass through another round of security checks. Seriously Padang? 3 separate checks in a span of 5 minutes?

The third and final security check here was the most strict, with empty water bottles also ordered to be thrown away. When I stated that I would like to refill it past security, the staff mentioned that there were no water points available after security. Wow.

Following this third and final security check, it was off to the immigration counter to get stamped out of Indonesia and thereafter to the AirAsia counter to get my boarding pass checked.

The rather crowded International Waiting Lounge. Hmm.

Ah, seems like there is a flight to KL departing first. That explains the crowd.

(Also, BIM, you might want to install your Firefox update.)

Passengers boarding the AirAsia AK402 flight to KL.

And here comes my Indonesia AirAsia plane to take me back to Singapore, which just touched down as QZ140.

Making a u-turn after slowing down on the runway.

PK-AXS in the Indonesia AirAsia Wow Livery taxiing to the gate.

The plane parked at Gate 3 as Gate 2 was still in use by AK402.

The almost-emptied-out International Waiting Lounge.

Since it was a relatively empty flight, I decided to board last to get myself an empty row to myself for the flight.

Boarding last for my Indonesia AirAsia QZ141 flight.

PK-AXS, parked at Gate 3 for my first and last Indonesia AirAsia QZ141 flight to Singapore.

Gate 3 is back in the domestic departures area, so it’s a walk through the glass door separating the two areas.

Back in the domestic departures area.

Boarding the plane through the aerobridge.

Goodbye Padang.

As I was walking to my seat, I saw that it was already taken by another passenger who decided to sprawl herself out (presumably from her B middle seat). No big deal, I just walked myself to a nearby empty row to get 3 seats to myself.

The legroom I’m supposed to have for this flight.

The legroom I encroached into on this flight.

The crowd on board Indonesia AirAsia QZ141. Feels a lot more crowded than my initial QZ140 flight yesterday though. Heard from the ground agent that there were 60 people checked in for the flight.

The Indonesia AirAsia QZ141 cabin crew greeting everyone before commencing with the safety demonstration.

The new Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 which just landed at Padang.

A really far pushback for my plane.

The front view of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, featuring the new split-tip winglets.

The new split-tip winglets are the most definitive feature of the Boeing 737 MAX family.

The pushback went so far that the safety demonstration was done by the time the plane came to a stop.

Taxiing to the runway.

The runway is pretty far out from the terminal building.

Making a u-turn at the turnaround area at the end of the runway.

Ready for takeoff. Goodbye Padang, my first and last time flying non-stop to Singapore from here.

Taking off from Padang in the northerly direction.

The plane took the right turn towards Singapore by a ~270-degree left turn.

Minangkabau International Airport as seen from above.

The breathtaking views of Padang from above.

Looking down at Lubuk Alung, with the railway junction and line to Pariaman and Kayu Tanam quite visible.

Cruising over the mountains.

Shortly after, the crew started the meal service. However, this time, passengers with pre-booked meals were not served first, but rather, the meal service was by rows from the front whether the passenger has pre-booked the meal or not, just like a full-service carrier. Not to my liking with my almost 20-minute wait, but I didn’t starve, so I guess it’s not too big a deal.

My pre-booked Nasi Kuning Manado for lunch.

The yellow rice cooked with coconut milk and turmeric is served with smoked cakalang (skip-jack tuna), balado egg, fried sweet potato, potato soya with beef and chili sambal. Tasted pretty good for S$4.

I added on a Kolak Pisang or Banana Kolak for dessert (Rp. 20,000), purchased from the in-flight sales trolley. It doesn’t look that appetizing from this picture, but it has all the ingredients inside as advertised on the picture in the menu such as real bananas and sweet potatoes. Pretty worth it for a hot in-flight dessert at less than S$2.

I also purchased an AirAsia Seatbelt Keychain and an AirAsia Airport Vehicles Keychain Set from the in-flight sales Rp. 50,000 promotion.

Approaching Singapore above Batam.

Not the clearest of skies today, and the scratches on the window isn’t helping my photos.

Flying over Batu Ampar.

Turning left over Nongsapura.

Approaching Singapore Changi Airport from Malaysia.

Crossing the border of Malaysia and Singapore.

Flying past Pulau Tekong.

Touched down in Singapore 30 minutes early.

Crossing over to Terminal 4 in wet weather.

The newcomer to Singapore, Cambodia JC International Airlines.

Turning in to Gate G12.

However, the plane stopped short of the gate for a good 12 minutes. Not sure what happened there, but the engines throttled up again a few minutes after, and stopped, and then it was shut down before I felt what was like a pushback tug pulling the plane into the gate.

Another newcomer to Singapore, Lanmei Airlines, being blocked by my plane for a good 12 minutes as well.

Disembarking from my first and last QZ141 flight.

PK-AXS at Changi Airport Terminal 4.

From Gate 12, it’s just a short walk to the Arrival Hall.

Heading down to immigration.

With no bags to collect, I headed straight out.

From Terminal 4, I got on a bus to the Downtown Line instead of heading back to Terminal 2 to get on the MRT.

Overall, Indonesia AirAsia QZ141 was a simple and fuss-free flight, with an early arrival to boot (but the 12-minute hold up at the gate wasn’t really very pleasant). It was a rather comfortable flight too – great for me, the passenger, but probably not good at all for Indonesia AirAsia’s revenue. Hopefully, if Padang becomes more developed, Indonesia AirAsia will reconsider reinstating the non-stop Singapore – Padang flight.

Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ141 has been terminated.
There are no more non-stop flights between Singapore and Padang.

KA Sibinuang: Pariaman to Padang by Train

Immediately after arriving from the KA Sibinuang B6 from Padang at 3.37pm, I needed to get on the KA Sibinuang B7 from Pariaman Railway Station back to Padang at 4.20pm as it was the last train of the day. The KA Sibinuang plies the Padang – Pariaman route just 4 times a day in each direction.

When I got to the ticket counter at Pariaman Railway Station just after arriving, tickets for the KA Sibinuang B7 were already all sold out.

However, I heard a small commotion at the station entrance and realised that there was a lady selling tickets for the train to Padang. It somehow costed Rp. 5,000 as usual, which was a bit strange to me since I thought she might have wanted to jack up the price now that tickets were sold out.

Nevertheless, I got a ticket for myself from her, not asking too many questions, and went on my way through the check-in at the entrance to the platform.

As Pariaman Railway Station does not have a barcode scanner, tickets are stamped in.

The crowd at the waiting area before boarding the train. Most passengers here are in tour groups.

With the loco now run around to the Padang side, the KA Sibinuang B7 train is formed.

Boarding chaos at Pariaman Railway Station.

Tickets are checked again by the entrance door to each coach to verify the seat and ticket of each passengers again.

After finding that my seat was taken by another group and that most passengers didn’t seem to care about seat numbers, I decided to just find a window by the borders to stand for the trip.

Here’s the situation at the borders before departure.

Departing from Pariaman Railway Station.

With a personal window by the door now, I can get more scenery shots for this KA Sibinuang journey back to Padang.

The situation inside the coach.

While both Padang and Pariaman are by the seaside, the railway takes an inland route.

Arrived at Kuraitaji Railway Station. My door remained closed as it was getting impossible to open the door with the passenger sitting and standing here.

With passengers filling up on the train, the crowd spilled out onto the borders and now has standing room only.

The scenery on the way to Pauhkambar.

Arrived at Pauhkambar Railway Station. More passengers boarded as well, but they were directed to Coaches 1 and 4 where there’s slightly more room for them. Again, my door remained locked.

The scenery on the way to Lubuk Alung.

Approaching the junction to Kayu Tanam.

Locals sprawl out on the track on the Kayu Tanam branch as the last Railbus Lembah Anai of the day had already departed just now.

Approaching Lubuk Alung Railway Station.

There were both alighting and boarding passengers at Lubuk Alung Railway Station, so the crowd remained relatively the same on board.

Departing from Lubuk Alung Railway Station.

Running parallel to the main road of Jl. Raya Padang – Bukittinggi.

The queue of vehicles waiting for the KA Sibinuang B7 to cross.

Crossing over a river towards Duku.

Arriving at Duku Railway Station.

Some passengers disembarked here at Duku Railway Station, but it was not enough to ease the crowded feel on board.

Making a brief stop at Lubuk Buaya Railway Station, with the train stopping on top of the level crossing before the station due to the short platform and long length of the train.

Departing from Lubuk Buaya with the passengers who just alighted from the KA Sibinuang still on the platform as they can’t get off with the train blocking the path to the main road.

Approaching Tabing Railway Station.

The KA Sibinuang B8 to Pariaman was waiting for my KA Sibinuang B7 train at Tabing Railway Station for crossing.

Passengers on my train were not allowed to alight until the KA Sibinuang B8 had departed.

A few more passengers alighted here at Tabing Railway Station.

The station master of Tabing Railway Station giving the all clear to depart.

At Air Tawar Railway Station, most of the passengers alighted.

Air Tawar Railway Station is located adjacent to Basko Grand Mall and where the two main roads in Kota Padang, one by the seaside and one in the inland side, split off. Passengers may also change to the Trans Padang BRT to get into Kota Padang from this station.

Departing from Air Tawar Railway Station.

Crossing over the Kuranji River.

A few more passengers alighted at Alai Railway Station. Seats were finally available in the coach, but I didn’t bother going in as it was just another 10 minutes to the end of the journey.

Approaching Padang Railway Station.

The route map of the KA Sibinuang.

Arrived at Padang Railway Station right on time at 5.58pm.

The end of the passenger line at Padang Railway Station.

The BB303 locomotive decouples from the train to run around the rake.

Goodbye BB303.

Exiting from Padang Railway Station.

Angkots were parked inside the station presumably specially for arriving passengers from the KA Sibinuang, but I didn’t know where they were running to. I got a Grab again to my hotel from here.

Overall, just like the initial journey on the KA Sibinuang B6 from Padang to Pariaman, it wasn’t the most comfortable train ride I’ve been on, standing throughout the 97-minute journey with my face almost on the door (but I’ve been through a lot worse here from Kertosono to Surabaya Gubeng), it definitely offers a unique view of Padang especially seeing how locals interact on board.

The KA Sibinuang train ride should still be one of the things on your list to do for sightseeing in Padang.

KA Sibinuang: Padang to Pariaman by Train

The KA Sibinuang is the flagship train of Divre II running between Padang and Pariaman. Being the smallest Regional Division in Sumatra and potentially the smallest operating group in both Java and Sumatra, the KA Sibinuang actually plies the entire mainline of Divre II. However, being a short journey of around 2 hours and with just 4 pairs of trains daily, the line used more for sightseeing and tourism purposes rather than a transport backbone of Padang.

Padang Railway Station, while it looks like a normal railway station, if not smaller than those on Java, is the largest railway station in Divre II.

The railway crossing at the entrance of Padang Railway Station offers a nice overview of the lines of the station, however, only limited cement trains use this crossing to continue on to Bukit Putus so chances of spotting trains crossing the road here are slim.

The entrance to Padang Railway Station on the main road is a short walk away to the actual station building.

The departure hall of Padang Railway Station.

Tickets for the KA Sibinuang can be purchased from Counter 1 3 hours before departure.

As I showed up only 1 hour before departure of the KA Sibinuang B6, I was left with a standing ticket.

Notice that the ticket printed here is from the Boarding Pass spool used in all other Daops and Divres.

Once purchased, get it checked in at the entrance to the platform.

The incoming BB303 attaching to the KA Sibinuang B6.

Divre II operates mainly with BoBo locomotives.

Coupling with the rake to form the KA Sibinuang B6 train to Pariaman.

The KA Sibinuang B6 is formed with the KA Sibinuang 1 rake consisting of 1 Kereta Makan Pembangkit Kelas Ekonomi (KMP3) coach (for hotel power and additional seats for standing passengers) and 4 Kelas Ekonomi (K3) coaches.

Announcements were made for boarding shortly after the locomotive was coupled to the rake.

The destination plate of the KA Sibinuang 1 on the coaches with the airline livery typical of PT KAI. The 1 represents the rake used, with the opposing Pariaman-based rake bearing the destination plate stating KA Sibinuang 2.

The older but unique destination sticker on the original KA Sibinuang-liveried coaches.

The interior of the KMP3 seating area. The food counter (not in operation) and generator are located after the door.

The interior of the K3 coaches on the KA Sibinuang.

I was expecting the original KA Sibinuang-livery coaches to have an older interior or even without being refurbished with air-conditioning, but unfortunately, they look just like typical K3 coaches everywhere else now.

The route map of the KA Sibinuang.

The KA Sibinuang B6 ready to depart for Pariaman. BB 303 73 03 heads the train today.

Departing from Padang Railway Station.

More passengers boarding at Alai Railway Station.

Alai Railway Station is located near Pasar Alai and Ibis Hotel Padang.

Crossing the river to Air Tawar Railway Station.

The train started to really fill up at Air Tawar Railway Station. The station is located just beside the main road and adjacent to Basko Grand Mall.

It’s now just standing room inside the coach.

Unfortunately, the conductor didn’t allow anyone to stand at the borders, so it’s a boring ride on the coach’s aisle for now.

Approaching Tabing Railway Station with more crowd coming in from the platform.

Waiting for the passengers to board.

A few more passengers board at Lubuk Buaya Railway Station.

Looking at Duku Railway Station from the aisle.

After departure, the train continued up north on the mainline, with the Minangkabau International Airport branch line splitting away on the left.

More scenic rivers to cross.

Lubuk Alung Railway Station is the main junction station of Divre II, with the line splitting off to Pariaman served by the KA Sibinuang, or Kayu Tanam served by the Railbus Lembah Anai.

KA Sibinuang B4 and B6 connects with the Railbus Lembah Anai B10F and B12F services respectively. However, through tickets cannot be purchased from Padang – you need to buy your Railbus Lembah Anai ticket at Lubuk Alung Railway Station.

Lubuk Alung Railway Station offers a convenient cross-platform transfer so it’s unfortunate that you can’t purchase a through ticket but to exit the station to purchase the onward ticket from the ticket counter.

The exterior of the Railbus Lembah Anai.

Crossing with the KA Sibinuang B5 from Pariaman to Padang with the KA Sibinuang 2 rake.

The line towards Kayu Tanam splitting off from the line to Pariaman after Lubuk Alung.

Dropping off some passengers at Pauhkambar Railway Station.

Pauhkambar Railway Station gives a rustic kampung feel, a vast difference from trains in the city.

The station still bears the old asset plate with the old logo of PT KAI.

Dropping off more passengers at Kuraitaji Railway Station.

Some coconut husks being dried out on the platform and on Line 1.

As Kuraitaji Railway Station is getting close to the Indian Ocean, and the Kota Padang, Padang Pariaman and Kota Pariaman areas were severely affected by the September 2009 Sumatra earthquake, evacuation plans in case of an earthquake or tsunami are clearly displayed in the station.

The coach gets a little bit emptied out on the way to the last stop, Pariaman.

Arrived at Pariaman Railway Station right on time. As the train had already exceeded the platform, I didn’t manage to walk to the front of the train to get a shot.

Exiting the station to buy my ticket back to Padang.

Pariaman is a seaside town popular with locals for the Gandoriah Beach, and which is actually the main purpose of running the KA Sibinuang. It is quite common for locals to call Gandoriah Beach as Pantai Wisata Pariaman or Pariaman Tourist Beach, and the KA Sibinuang as the Kereta Api Wisata or Tourist Train.

The facade of Pariaman Railway Station.

Overall, it wasn’t the most comfortable train ride I’ve been on, standing almost throughout the 97-minute journey (but I’ve been through a lot worse here and here in Surabaya), but it definitely offers a unique view of Padang with fantastic sceneries from the train of the many river crossings and nearby mountain ranges.

The KA Sibinuang train ride should be one of the things on your list to do for sightseeing in Padang.

KRDE Minangkabau Express : Minangkabau International Airport to Padang (Simpang Haru) by Train

The Minangkabau Express is Indonesia’s third airport rail link after Medan’s ARS Kualanamu and Jakarta’s ARS Soekarno-Hatta. The service commenced operations on 1 May 2018, with President Joko Widodo officially inaugurating the line on 21 May 2018. Having predicted the opening date of the Minangkabau Express early this year, I purchased myself a cheap ticket on Indonesia AirAsia on the new route from Singapore to Padang, and was pretty happy that my prediction to get on the brand new train just after the opening was almost spot on.

Padang Minangkabau International Airport Access Map

Estimated route map of the Padang public transport network. Only main travelling routes and terminals are featured.

From the International Arrivals area, it was pretty close to the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station.

Turn left after exiting customs and look out for the signs to the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station, connected to the terminal building by a series of sheltered walkways.

The first shelter was probably used as a taxi and bus stand before.

This shelter offers a good view of the tarmac, and the plane at Gate 2.

Looking back at my Indonesia AirAsia plane which brought me here from Singapore on flight QZ140.

Continue on to the new grade-level sheltered walkway leading to the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station.

The view of the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station as seen from the sheltered walkway.

This is followed by a ramp up to the bridge which crosses the existing car park.

Looking back at the terminal building from the ramp.

The walkway to the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station from here is air-conditioned.

It’s a cool and comfortable walk above the car park here.

Flight information is also available on screens installed in this portion of the walkway. There’s my flight which just arrived from Singapore 20 minutes early.

There are signs on the outside of the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station building bearing the name BIM (Bandara Internasional Minangkabau), however, access to the station is via this linkbridge only.

At the end of the linkway, head down to the station via the set of escalators.

Purchase your ticket in cash at the information and ticket counter in the middle of the hall.

The timetable and fare chart of the Minangkabau Express. Click on the image to enlarge.

Fares are set at Rp. 10,000 if you are on a journey starting or ending at Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station, or Rp. 5,000 for journeys without accessing Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station.

My ticket for the Minangkabau Express from Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station to Padang Railway Station.

Interestingly, the Minangkabau Express ticket is using the usual paper tickets issued for regular Divre II trains and there are no Railink branding around the entire network. My guess is that with the low fares, the Minangkabau Express is not operated under PT Railink but just as another train in PT KAI’s Divre II.

Once boarding calls are made, proceed to the departure gate to get checked in, scanning the barcode on the ticket at the entrance, just like a normal Lokal train.

The waiting area by Platform 1 has some paintings of the KA Sibinuang and the Railbus Lembah Anai as a backdrop.

The new KRDE for the Minangkabau Express waiting at Platform 2.

The front of this KRDE bears a little bit of resemblance to the KRL ARS Soekarno-Hatta.

The Minangkabau Express does not open its doors until about 10 minutes before departure.

The view of the train at the platform.

Meanwhile, you can head to the air-conditioned waiting area with ample seats just beside Platform 2.

The destination plane of the Minangkabau Express.

The Minangkabau Express at Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station, with the unique Minang-style roof.

The train doors were open about 10 minutes before departure.

The interior of the Minangkabau Express. The train feels like it’s been designed for a long-haul commuter service rather than a premium express train.

Seats by the doors are positioned sideways.

The seats on the Minangkabau Express are arranged in facing bays of 4 with non-reclining seats.

Luggage racks are available on the Minangkabau Express near the train doors.

The route map of the Minangkabau Express.

A toilet is also available on board in the middle of the 4-car train.

The toilet bowl comes with an attached bidet operated by a knob at the side of the seat. A more “traditional” bidet spray is also available in case you can’t figure out how to use the one installed on the toilet bowl.

Baby changing facilities and a sink are also available in the toilet.

The new KRDE seems to be catered towards a high capacity in future with handgrips installed on almost the full length of the train.

The usual INKA handgrips with both the logos of PT KAI and INKA stickered on them.

The front end of the Minangkabau Express train.

There is a fold-out seat installed on this end of the train, presumably for one staff to have a seat here.

The view when seated.

For now, various PT KAI corporate videos are played on the TV screens on board the Minangkabau Express.

The LED destination display updates on the route and upcoming stops of the Minangkabau Express.

Departing from Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station.

Scenic views of Padang Pariaman on the Minangkabau International Airport branch line.

Crossing the Jl. Raya Padang – Bukittinggi, the main road in the Padang Pariaman Regency.

Approaching the mainline.

Arriving at Duku Railway Station.

Duku Railway Station looks as if it was refurbished specifically for the Minangkabau Express train service with high platforms and a spacious interior.

The high platforms of Duku Railway Station match up with the Minangkabau Express train.

Heading off on the mainline.

Crossing the monument on the border of Padang Pariaman and Kota Padang.

The railway runs parallel with the main Jl. Adinegoro.

Railway crossings are also almost parallel instead of meeting the road at right angles.

Crossing over a river.

A nice view of the Indian Ocean from on board the Minangkabau Express.

Making a stop at Tabing Railway Station where most passengers alighted.

Tabing Railway Station does not have high platforms. As such, the fold-out steps beneath each door on the Minangkabau Express train are deployed here.

Passengers can connect to the Trans Padang BRT service at Tabing Railway Station.

The opposing views of human development and nature on the left and right sides of the Minangkabau Express.

Passing by Universitas Negeri Padang.

Passing through Air Tawar Railway Station and Basko Grand Mall.

Approaching Padang Railway Station.

Padang Railway Station has both a high and low platform, with the Minangkabau Express taking Line 2/Platform 3 for the high platform.

Arrived at Padang Railway Station.

The exterior of the KRDE Minangkabau Express.

From the Minangkabau Express, exit the station as per normal.

The exterior of Padang Railway Station.

The onward transport map of Padang Railway Station (which isn’t of much use since it’s just directing you to get an ojek, taxi, angkot or a Tranex Mandiri Airport Bus from outside the station. The Trans Padang BRT unfortunately does not serve Padang Railway Station.

The timetable of the Minangkabau Express on a banner at Padang Railway Station.

I got myself a Grab from outside of Padang Railway Station to my hotel to check in before the KA Sibinuang ride to Pariaman.

Overall, the Minangkabau Express train serviceDAMRI Minangkabau Airport Bus and Tranex Mandiri Airport Bus operate on each of their unique routes into Kota Padang, and allows you to avoid the hefty taxi fares while providing ample space for you and your luggage. While the airport buses may be able to serve more direct routes, the Minangkabau Express shaves off a little bit of travelling time into Kota Padang (excluding waiting time) and you can easily call for a Grab from Padang Railway Station, or transfer to the Trans Padang BRT at Tabing Railway Station. Furthermore, the Minangkabau Express costs less than half the price of the airport bus (Rp. 10,000 vs Rp. 23,500).

While it isn’t current well promoted on the internet, do give the Minangkabau Express a shot the next time you visit Padang.

Indonesia AirAsia QZ140: Singapore (Changi Airport Terminal 4) to Padang (Minangkabau International Airport) by Airbus A320-200

Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ140 has been terminated.
There are no more non-stop flights between Singapore and Padang.

Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ140 is a new flight from Singapore to Padang, launched on 9 February 2018, departing once daily. This new flight and destination was launched together with Medan, with a Medan-based plane operating the KNO-SIN-PDG-SIN-KNO route. I booked my tickets last year, predicting the travel dates to be in time to coincide with the opening of the Minangkabau Express airport train to the city, and I’m glad to say that it was almost perfect.

Unfortunately, this was also to be my last flight on board QZ140 as the flight has been terminated effective 17 May 2018. QZ140 flew for the last time on 16 May 2018.

Check-in was at Row 4 as usual.

Printing out my boarding pass from the FAST Check-in Kiosk.

My souvenir for my first and last QZ140 flight.

Once immigration and security clearance was done, I checked the flight departure screens around for my gate.

Hmm, Gate G1. Time to use the shortcut directly there instead of walking through the duty-free shops.

For Gates G1 to G5, do not trust the signs around.

Instead, head towards the GST Refund and iShop Changi counters which seem to be like a dead end.

There is a corridor beside it without any signage, which looks somewhat like a service corridor, but it’s actually accessible for everyone.

Upon entering it and turning left, you’ll pass by some toilets.

And in a few seconds, you are right between Gates G4 and G5.

Now that you know of this shortcut, you can potentially get from the departure driveway to the gate in around 5 minutes – if you know of the gate already.

With a little bit of time before my flight, I decided to roam around the terminal first.

The thin strip of glass above is where the “famous” T4 Viewing Mall in the public area is situated.

Unfortunately, you can’t really view much from up there, unless you plan to view the departure transit area instead of planes.

I decided to head up to the Peranakan Gallery which is somehow not really promoted yet.

The Peranakan Gallery is located on the same Mezzanine Level as the International Food Hall, the Cathay Pacific Lounge and the Blossom – SATS & Plaza Premium Lounge.

The facade of the Peranakan Gallery.

The insides of a typical Peranakan house back in the days.

Identity and Diaspora explores the origin and spread of Peranakan or ‘local born’ communities in the Southeast Asia region through photographs.

Architecture and Household provides a semi-contextual recreation of the interior of a Peranakan home and its furnishings.

Fashion and Textiles showcases an iconic aspect of Peranakan fashion and
style, with various sarong kebayas on display.

Though I’m not sure if these FS/LS/CS/IFS-style kebayas are making this exhibition a little confusing.

The Modern Peranakan looks at the impact of the Peranakans on contemporary Singapore art, design and the performing arts.

This section includes modern and historical examples of “nyonyaware”.

The Peranakan Gallery is presented by the Peranakan Museum (located at Armenian Street), blending into the heritage and culture theme at Terminal 4.

Below the Peranakan Gallery lies the Steel in Bloom centerpiece for the indoor garden.

Beside it, there’s a pretty upscale washroom with a shortcut to Gate G10.

Possibly the second-best airport washroom in the world (with the best being the Peranakan-themed one at the Heritage Zone), this washroom comes with high ceilings and premium furnishing to boot.

The urinals come with an art piece hung on the wall.

Some cubicles also have additional facilities such as child seats or with additional handrails for the less mobile.

All toilet bowls are Japanese-style which opens up and lights up to greet you as you enter the cubicle. Seats can also be heated with an in-built washer and dryer. You may control the functions of the seat on the control panel on the right as you sit down.

The sink area also comes with tall mirrors and individual paper towel dispensers.

Don’t forget to give your cleaner the highest rating possible as you exit the washroom.

With the impending departure time, I started the 8-minute walk back to Gate G1.

Got to the gate around 30 minutes before departure time.

Hmm, not many passengers queuing to board the aircraft.

Hello and goodbye to QZ140 being flashed on the screens.

Heading for the Automated Boarding Gates. However, for some reason, the system can’t detect my face well even though I’ve already used the Automated Immigration to enter the transit area, with the screen telling me to proceed to the counter beside for me to get checked as per normal.

PK-AXU ready for the QZ140 flight to Padang.

Ending the petals trail on the aerobridge.

Hmm, not much people on board too.

The legroom available on the plane.

Some souvenirs at a discount on board.

The cabin crew prepares for the safety briefing for this empty flight. No wonder the flight has been terminated.

Pushing back from the gate.

Lots of room for everybody on board.

Taxiing out of Terminal 4 to the runway.

Goodbye Singapore and the future Terminal 5 (which I’m going to try to avoid funding with the new airport tax).

Turning southeast towards Indonesia.

The overview of Changi Airport and the surroundings.

Goodbye Singapore.

It was an uneventful smooth cruise to Padang.

Since I’m on a flight to Padang, what better meal to start the trip with than a Nasi Padang? Prebooked this for S$4.

The Nasi Padang set comes with beef rendang, cassava leaves, ikan bilis and green sambal. Tasted alright, but for AirAsia food, I think the Chicken Lasagna or Nasi Lemak might fare better.

The view of the very empty QZ140 flight from the rear.

Approaching Padang Minangkabau International Airport from the sea.

Passing over Alai.

Basko Grand Mall as seen from above.

Approaching Padang Minangkabau International Airport.

Touched down at Padang Minangkabau International Airport.

Making a u-turn on the runway to head back to the terminal.

Turning into the terminal.

An AirAsia plane heading to the end of the runway to take-off to Kuala Lumpur as AK402.

Minangkabau International Airport is designed like a rumah bagonjong, similar to the traditional homes of Minangkabau.

Disembarking from the empty plane.

The plane parked at Gate 2 for international flights, which offers a good view of the linkway to the Minangkabau International Airport Railway Station.

Goodbye QZ140, you will be missed.

Heading down for immigration and customs clearance.

Once out of the customs area, it’s a left turn to the main purpose of the trip – getting on board the new Minangkabau Express airport train to the city.

Overall, Indonesia AirAsia QZ140 was a simple and fuss-free flight to get from Singapore to Padang in just under an hour (actual flying time). It was a rather comfortable flight too – great for me, the passenger, but probably not good at all for Indonesia AirAsia’s revenue. I would really love to do this trip again as I did not manage to cover Divre II on this trip in full, and will fly here again definitely, but for now, I have to stick with the new arrangement AirAsia has for me for my next flight instead of completing the journey in just an hour.

Hopefully, if Padang becomes more developed, Indonesia AirAsia will reconsider reinstating the non-stop Singapore – Padang flight back.

Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ140 has been terminated.
There are no more non-stop flights between Singapore and Padang.


Proposed Cessation of Selected Train Services and New Bus Subsidiary for KTM Berhad

Unsustainable Train Services

Recent line closures, reduced frequencies and delayed express KTM Intercity trains by an average of 3 hours daily, are affecting passenger satisfaction on the national railway operator, KTM Berhad, bringing it to an all-time low. Those with no option but to wait for the train makes up the most of KTM Komuter and Shuttle passengers who currently still use the train services, and ETS passengers are avoiding the service with the new timetable change with the new trains supposedly capable of operational speeds of up to 140 km/h offering a travel time comparable to the cheaper bus, excluding delays. As such, current rail services are unsustainable to maintain long-term profits as existing passengers will find alternative means of transport once they become more affluent.

Last 41dn Tampin JB Sentral 07 BW.JPG

Proposed Cessation of Train Services

With marginal profit on existing train services running on the electrified double track sectors and a perpetual loss-making subsidiary called KTM Intercity (excluding the Shuttle Tebrau service), it is logical to terminate the train service assuming this is based on cost alone. To continue running the trains for public service is also utmost important, considering that there are some minor kampungs which rely mainly on trains and motorbikes for transport to the nearest town, however, an alternative needs to be sourced to reduce the operational cost to have KTM Berhad at least break even to operate the service.

Proposed New KTM Bus Subsidiary

Replacing a train service with buses is not a new idea. In fact, arrangements are already in place for KTM shuttle buses for affected closed lines. However, by having a bus subsidiary, this will help reduce costs in the long run and have a much faster activation rate since its all in-house.

Railway companies operating buses in tandem isn’t a new or revolutionary idea at all.

Japan has JR Bus not only to offer a last-mile connection from stations but also to compete with their own Shinkansen service as the latter does not offer an option for overnight travel.

France has the Ouigo low-cost high-speed train, a subsidiary of French state railways SNCF, and also Ouibus, also a subsidiary of French state railways SNCF and low-cost intercity bus company operating on a similar model as the train.

Western Australia’s Transwa has bus services extending out of the terminus of the railway line to connect with further towns, combining rail and road coach public transport as a seamless single integrated mode of long distance transport.

After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the portion of the Kesennuma Line between Yanaizu and Kesennuma, and the portion of the Ofunato Line between Kesennuma and Sakari were converted to a single-lane BRT after a portion of the railway was destroyed. These BRT lines are made up of exclusive right of way roads tarred over certain portions of the existing railway alignment offering a journey with speeds similar to the railway prior to the earthquake. The BRT is much cheaper and faster to replace the railway with in the short term than reinstating the entire section of tracks, and is cheaper in the long-run too as maintenance is focused only on the buses and roads, and a tarred road with timetabled BRT buses just needs a simple signalling system with traffic lights at crossing points. Also, the BRT can now serve the heart of the new towns directly, diverting away from the destroyed town and original railway station stop as they are not restricted by the strict railway track alignment.

Comparison of Travel Times between KTM and Existing Express Buses

Due to the main highways not being parallel with the railways, an unfair advantage can be argued for buses especially in the southern region as the North South Highway offers a straighter, more direct and faster route as compared with the railway which first travels inland to Gemas from KL and then continues south down to Johor Bahru (ie. a triangle explained using Pythagoras’ theorem whereby a = KL to Gemas by KTM, b = Gemas to JB by KTM and c = KL to JB by highway ie. bus).

Due to KTM’s poor existing timetable, KL – Gemas takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, and Gemas – JB takes around 4 hours and 10 minutes. This is excluding the transfer time of around 1 hour at Gemas between the Shuttle and ETS (or 4 hours 58 minutes for the night train combination). As compared to a direct bus ride which takes around 5 hours including a toilet break from KL to JB by the direct North South Highway, there is not much reason for those travelling from JB to KL to regularly use KTM unless it is purely for the experience.

For services in the Northern Sector, KTM has a slightly upper hand over buses as ETS trains can travel at up to 140km/h at operational speeds, getting from KL to Butterworth in around 4 hours and 30 minutes as compared with around 5 hours by bus. For Ipoh, the location of the railway station definitely plays a part even with the slower ETS schedule now as the main Ipoh Amanjaya Bus Terminal is located out of the city.

For services in the East Coast Sector, it may not be a direct fair comparison for Shuttle trains as they serve mainly the smaller Kampungs, and the Express Rakyat Timuran offers an overnight experience – a plus point over night buses as there is no straight highway unlike on the West Coast, but it only departs once a day and is usually delayed by hours – definitely a negative point no matter how you want to argue it.

On a previous first-hand experience with the KTM01 Rail Replacement Bus Service from KL Sentral to Sentul, the running time of the service was just 13 minutes from end to end as compared to the original KTM Komuter timetable of 18 minutes. That is to say, KTM’s own Rail Replacement Bus Service is cutting down travel times from the closed railway line, and the travel time is actually improved by bus now that the KTM Komuter line is closed.

Proposed New Parallel Roads to Existing Railway Alignment

The following stretches of railway has limited train services and no immediate parallel roads connecting the stations, and there is a need for new roads to be built to improve connectivity between these towns:

  • Kulai – Layang-Layang
  • Paloh – Bekok – Labis
  • Gemas – Batang Melaka – Pulau Sebang (Tampin)
  • Dabong – Kuala Krai – Temangan

Proposed roads should be built beside the existing railway instead of on top of the existing railway alignment. This is to facilitate the JB – Gemas Double Track Project works and East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works. In Malaysia’s case, no portion of the railway should be tarred over to have a permanent BRT service in favour of the railway.

The road may be of a single-lane arrangement with timed crossings at stations prior to entering the single-lane roadway in order to save costs. The proposed new roadways should then be for the exclusive use of special buses designated for Rail Replacement Services. If necessary, signalling with a symbolic paper token system (Tiket Jalan Bebas) can be adopted to control the one-way flow of bus(es) into the single-lane roadway.

92 Class Ipoh 01

Proposed Operation of Existing Services

KTM Bus: A new subsidiary to cater to all Rail Replacement Services and new Express Bus services (details of replaced trains and new services below).

Shuttle Tebrau: To continue as per normal up till the completion of the JB – Singapore RTS as it is the only service for KTM to earn quick fares. After the RTS is opened, the Shuttle Tebrau will be terminated according the Malaysia–Singapore Points of Agreement Supplement 2011.

Shuttle JB Sentral – Tampin: To terminate and all rail replacement operations transferred to new KTM Bus subsidiary via existing roads and parallel new roads beside existing railway alignment. Existing coaches should undergo a major overhaul and refurbishment, which should be ready around the same time as the East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works completion date. Locomotives should be used to boost KTM Kargo services whenever possible.

Shuttle Timur: To terminate and all rail replacement operations transferred to new KTM Bus subsidiary via new roads tarred over the existing railway alignment until the new DMUs arrive and East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works are completed. Existing coaches should undergo a major overhaul and refurbishment, which should be ready around the same time as the East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works completion date. Locomotives should be used to boost KTM Kargo services whenever possible.

Express Rakyat Timuran: To terminate and all rail replacement operations transferred to new KTM Bus subsidiary via new roads tarred over the existing railway alignment until the new DMUs arrive and East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works are completed. Should the completion of the JB – Gemas Double Track Project works and East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works be around the same time, services on the limited stop Express Rakyat Timuran should be run with the new DMUs on the Gemas – Tumpat sector only, with ETS services connecting passengers between JB Sentral and Gemas. Existing coaches should undergo a major overhaul and refurbishment, which should be ready around the same time as the East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works completion date. Locomotives should be used to boost KTM Kargo services whenever possible.

ETS Silver: To terminate and be replaced by KTM Komuter (see below).

ETS Gold: To be renamed as ETS Express with a similar fare structure as the existing ETS Gold. All services to be truncated to terminate at Sungai Buloh instead of KL Sentral or Gemas. All services to Gemas should be terminated until the JB – Gemas Double Track Project is completed, thereafter ETS services can be extended to JB Sentral. Passengers can use the MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang Line to connect with the KTM Komuter Pulau Sebang (Tampin) line to connect with the Pulau Sebang (Tampin) – JB Sentral KTM Bus. All trains are to run on a single Sungai Buloh – Padang Besar route at hourly intervals. This is to prevent conflict of timetabling, prevent a conflict of expected services based on the passenger’s perception and for easy fare calculations for both staff and passengers alike. Moreover, if all services are kept at a constant, there is no need to keep referring back to the timetable on the stations each train serves but rather just focus on the departure and arrival timings. Coaches A, B and C are to be reserved for passengers travelling on longer distances between [Sungai Buloh/…/Tanjung Malim] and [Taiping/…/Padang Besar] from 60 days to 7 days before departure. Coaches D and E are to be reserved for passengers travelling on short distances between Sungai Buloh and Ipoh, Ipoh and Sungai Petani, and Sungai Petani and Padang Besar from 60 days to 7 days before departure. Coach F will be for non-reserved seat passengers with KTM charging only the Travel fare without the Place fee, and a limit of only 1 carry-on luggage and 1 small personal bag per person. However, there should be a ticket limit of 1.33 times the number of seats available in the coach at any point of time ie. there will be 25% of passengers who will be standing in Coach F when the coach is fully sold out. (This loading factor is derived from the Shuttle Tebrau 240 available seats vs. 320 actual tickets sold.) This is to give the lower income earners a chance to ride on the ETS Express for transport, to encourage short-distance travel with ETS Express and for last-minute bookings when the other coaches are fully sold out for all destinations. During peak periods of the year, KTM may also consider increasing the ticket sales for non-reserved seat passengers to 2 times the number of seats available in the coach, with passengers allowed to stand in other coaches instead of being confined to Coach F. Enforcement will need to be made by on-board staff to prevent standees from sitting in other coaches or on the floor. These restrictions with the exception of the non-reserved seat coach are to be lifted from 6 days before departure to the time of departure including the usual blocked seats to prevent conflict between rolling stock changes from 93 Class to 91 Class or vice-versa. Passengers going to minor stations may use the KTM Komuter Northern Sector as a relay. Passengers going to Butterworth may use the KTM Komuter Northern Sector as a relay, or use the direct KTM Bus service as proposed below.

ETS Platinum: To terminate and be replaced by ETS Express (see above).

KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector: Services between KL Sentral and Sungai Buloh to be suspended until the completion of the Klang Valley Double Track Project. Lines should operate on the KL Sentral – Subang Jaya – Pelabuhan Klang (60 minute frequency), KL Sentral – Subang Jaya – SkyPark Terminal (60 minute frequency), KL Sentral – Pulau Sebang (Tampin) (30 minute frequency) and Sungai Buloh – Ipoh (60 minute frequency) (replacing ETS Silver) routes, stopping at all stations, with the SkyPark Link limited stop service suspended. This is to provide just enough leeway for single-track operations whee affected and yet offer double frequency on the KL Sentral – Subang Jaya sector, and a wider coverage up north to Ipoh to divert passengers away from ETS Express services. However, passengers on the Sungai Buloh – Ipoh Line can also consider buying a ticket for the non-reserved seat coach of the ETS Express service should there be one departing ahead of the KTM Komuter train. Existing Rail Replacement Bus Services KTM01 should be extended to ply all stations on the KL Sentral – Batu Caves Line including Kuala Lumpur, Bank Negara and Putra, KTM02 should be extended to ply all stations on the Sentul – Batu Caves Line and train services on the Sentul – Batu Caves Line be suspended as long as the Rail Replacement Bus Services are in place. New KTM03 bus should be introduced to ply the KL Sentral – Sungai Buloh route, stopping at all stations en route. KTM01, KTM02 and KTM03 buses should charge existing KTM Komuter fares for the convenience of passengers, eliminating the need to change modes of transport for a short journey, and to sustain the bus operations on this line. Parallel bus services running at 15 minute frequencies should also be introduced to ply on the Pelabuhan Klang – KL Sentral, Seremban – KL Sentral and Tanjung Malim – KL Sentral routes, charging existing KTM Komuter fares until trains can run at 15-minute intervals consistently throughout the day. Should there never be such a day, the parallel buses should continue indefinitely.

KTM Komuter Northern Sector

To continue as per normal for the Butterworth – Padang Besar Line, to extend the Bukit Merjatam – Padang Rengas Line to become the Butterworth – Ipoh Line. This can be serviced with 2 additional sets of SCS (total of 4 sets for the line) which the Klang Valley Sector will have an excess of with the removal of the Sentul – Batu Caves service. Both lines are to run at hourly intervals, timetabled to act as a relay for passengers from ETS Express services to access Bukit Mertajam, Bukit Tengah and Butterworth stations.


Proposed New KTM Bus Routes

The proposed KTM Bus routes are to offer a faster connection between major cities by using existing highways which may or may not be parallel to the railway line, offering a flexibility of bus services as compared to the rigid railway line. This is in addition to the above-mentioned rail replacement local routes on the KTM Intercity network above.

  • JB Sentral – Kempas Baru – Labis – Segamat – Gemas – Pulau Sebang (Tampin) Express
  • JB Sentral – Kempas Baru – Labis – Segamat – Gemas – Bahau Express
  • JB Sentral – Kempas Baru – Pulau Sebang (Tampin) – Melaka Sentral Express
  • JB Sentral – Kempas Baru – KL Sentral Express
  • KL Sentral – Seremban – Pulau Sebang (Tampin) – Melaka Sentral Express
  • KL Sentral – Seremban – Kuala Pilah – Bahau Express
  • KL Sentral – Mentakab – Temerloh – Kuantan Express
  • KL Sentral – Kuala Lipis Express
  • KL Sentral – Ipoh Express
  • KL Sentral – Taiping – Kamunting Express
  • KL Sentral – Butterworth (Penang Sentral) Express
  • Ipoh – Gua Musang Express
  • Ipoh – Butterworth (Penang Sentral) Express
  • Butterworth (Penang Sentral) – Alor Setar – Jitra – Changloon Express
  • Butterworth (Penang Sentral) – Alor Setar – Kuala Perlis Express
  • Butterworth (Penang Sentral) – Tanah Merah – Pasir Mas – Wakaf Bharu – Kota Bharu Express

All services are (obviously) operating in the reverse direction as well, with stops at railway stations instead of existing bus terminals in the respective towns unless otherwise indicated or they have no railway stations.

The KTM Bus tickets can be sold like a train ticket, with bus numbers in place of train numbers, stops functioning like train stations and passengers can board and alight at intermediate stops if necessary ie. passengers can connect from the KTM Komuter at Pulau Sebang (Tampin) Railway Station to a Pulau Sebang (Tampin) – Melaka Sentral Express KTM Bus.

Proposed Name of KTM Bus

Well, KTM Bus sounds good. I mean, the initials of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) and KTM Bus (KTMB) are a perfect match right? Also, by bearing the name KTM, passengers will still get the impression that this is a railway service. Goods delivered by KTM Distrbution are mostly not done by the railway any more but by trucks on roads, but people still think that it’s a train delivery service right?

Jokes aside, operating a bus subsidiary is the way to go for KTM, whatever the name could be – that’s probably the least of my concerns. Whoever said a railway company needs to be purely in the railway business only? Hong Kong’s MTR generates immense revenue from their shopping malls and residential apartments built on their land. Thailand’s SRT rents out their land to a popular market which attracts throngs of visitors, locals and tourists alike – the Chatuchak Weekend Market (yes, it sits on railway land). Singapore’s SMRT and SBSTransit rents out shops and event spaces around most stations so you can buy something to eat when trains break down, and hey, they operate buses as well.



By having a bus subsidiary, just like KTM Distribution which now uses trucks instead of trains, KTM can reach out to more destinations than ever before from the current railway network, and perhaps, just hopefully, gain back the commuter’s trust in them before the JB – Gemas Electrified Double Track Project and East Coast Line Track Rehabilitation works are completed, for KTM to finally make a profit out of the electric train services which would span Peninsular Malaysia then.

Note: I’m not keeping my hopes up that KTM will actually follow this proposal. But at least, wake up, and not offer a ridiculous 120 minute frequency on Komuter lines please. If you need a standard on how poor the railway is currently, with almost no logical timetables to travel down south, RailTravel Station, a railway travel blog, has not taken the train to KL for more than 1 year and counting because there are no logical train connections and travel times now.

Disclaimer: This article is purely the thoughts and views of RailTravel Station and in no way reflects an actual train service arrangement by the operator, KTM Berhad. And RailTravel Station still loves rail travel, though it’s becoming more and more difficult to do so in Malaysia.

Vietnam Airlines VN675: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Kuala Lumpur by Airbus A321-200

Vietnam Airlines is the flag carrier of Vietnam with a pair of flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur daily. Flight VN675 is the sole flight from Ho Chi Minh City departing at 3.05pm, arriving in KLIA at 6.05pm.

The queue to check-in took around 30 minutes at the common check-in counter for Economy Class.

Gate 15 is the first gate on the left after immigration and security, and thankfully not a bus gate (that’s Gates 10 to 14).

Vietnam Airlines VN675 is codeshared with Cambodia Angkor Air (K6) and Etihad Airways (EY).

Boarding the plane via the aerobridge.

The Business Class seats on board Vietnam Airlines’s Airbus A321.

The Economy Class seats on board Vietnam Airlines’s Airbus A321.

The interior of Vietnam Airlines’s Airbus A321.

Before departure, the stewardess came around to give out wet towels.

The washroom on board was clean with amenities such as toothbrush kits and shaving kits available.

Also available was a secret stash of sanitary pads in the drawer. Truly prepared for any bathroom emergencies.

For dinner, a choice of Beef with Potatoes or Fish with Rice was offered.

Here’s the Beef with Potatoes option. Tasted pretty good.

Arrived back at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

As the plane parked at the Satellite Terminal, an Aerotrain ride is required to get to the Main Terminal Building to clear immigration and for baggage reclaim.

The interior of the Aerotrain.

Malaysia Airlines’s Airbus A350 and Airbus A380 as seen from the Aerotrain.

Arrived at the Main Terminal Building and it’s off for immigration to get back into Malaysia.

Overall, the Vietnam Airlines VN675 flight was great with friendly staff, comfortable legroom and delicious food. However, the lack of a personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) system was a little bit disappointing. But in this region with Malaysia Airlines flying ex-Firefly planes randomly or Batik Air Malaysia flying new planes with IFEs conveniently not installed, I guess it isn’t much of a big deal.