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Goodbye Ekspres Selatan

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.

The 42up and 43dn Ekspres Selatan commenced service on 9 May 2016, and the 40up, 41dn, 44up and 45dn Ekspres Selatan commenced service on 19 May 2016.

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.

The 40up and 41dn Ekspres Selatan were initially made up of the typical ASC coaches of varying types.

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.

The train was shortened to 3 BSC coaches for a short period of time, but is now relenghtened to 4 BSC coaches 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.

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MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus Routes: Sungai Buloh MRT Station

The feeder buses from Sungai Buloh MRT Station links the surrounding residential and industrial areas to the MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line. The MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus services will commence service on 16 December 2016.

RailTravel Station offers MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus guides for:


Bus Route Information

Originating Services

RapidKL MRT Feeder Bus Service T100
Sungai Buloh – Hospital Sungai Buloh – Kuarters Integrasi Sungai Buloh

Fares
Cash: RM1.00
Cashless RM0.80

Frequency
Every 10 – 15 minutes

Operating Hours
5.30am – 11.30pm

RapidKL MRT Feeder Bus Service T101
Sungai Buloh – Perumahan BRP 6

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Fares
Cash: RM1.00
Cashless RM0.80

Frequency
Every 10 – 15 minutes

Operating Hours
5.30am – 11.30pm

RapidKL MRT Feeder Bus Service T102
Sungai Buloh – Kampung Kubu Gajah

Fares
Cash: RM1.00
Cashless RM0.80

Frequency
Every 10 – 15 minutes

Operating Hours
5.30am – 11.30pm

RapidKL MRT Feeder Bus Service T103
Sungai Buloh – Apartment Impian

mrt-sbk-line-feeder-bus-t103-01

Fares
Cash: RM1.00
Cashless RM0.80

Frequency
Every 10 – 15 minutes

Operating Hours
5.30am – 11.30pm


RailTravel Station offers MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus guides for:

For more information, visit the links below for the full list of feeder buses from SPAD’s website:

MRT Feeder Bus Routes

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MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus Routes: Kampung Selamat MRT Station

The feeder buses from Kampung Selamat MRT Station links the surrounding industrial areas to the MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line. The MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus services will commence service on 16 December 2016.

RailTravel Station offers MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus guides for:


Bus Route Information

Originating Services

RapidKL MRT Feeder Bus Service T104
Kampung Selamat – IPD Sungai Buloh

Fares
Cash: RM1.00
Cashless RM0.80

Frequency
Every 10 – 15 minutes

Operating Hours
5.30am – 11.30pm


RailTravel Station offers MRT Sungai Buloh – Kajang (SBK) Line Feeder Bus guides for:

For more information, visit the links below for the full list of feeder buses from SPAD’s website:

MRT Feeder Bus Routes

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Getting from Johor Bahru to Woodlands, Singapore After Midnight

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Crossing from Johor Bahru to Singapore after the last bus has departed is a last resort, but not an impossible task at hand. And with KTM’s awesome timetabling skills which has the evening train from Gemas arriving into JB Sentral at 1.10am, this may become a new necessity. Below is a guide on the possible options you may have.

Click here for border crossing options during the day (5.30am – 12.30am).


Last Bus Timings departing from Sultan Iskandar CIQ Complex (Johor Bahru):

Bus Service Destination Weekday Weekend
160 Jurong East Int 12.38am 12.35am
170 Queen St Ter (Bugis) 12.30am 12.30am
170X Kranji MRT Stn 12.00am 12.00am
950 Woodlands Int 12.00am 12.00am
AC7 Yishun Int 11.30pm 11.30pm
CW1 Kranji MRT Stn 11.30pm 11.30pm
CW2 Queen St Ter (Bugis) 11.00pm 11.00pm
CW5 Newton Circus 10.30pm 10.30pm
SJE Queen St Ter (Bugis) 11.30pm 11.30pm
TS1 Changi Arport 9.15pm 9.15pm
TS8 Resorts World Sentosa 10.00pm 10.00pm

Option 1: Express Bus

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Picture for illustration only.

Hop on a waiting express bus from other long-distance destinations. Express buses departing from cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh or Penang in the late afternoon or evening may cross the checkpoint past 1am. Express buses usually terminate at Golden Mile near the Bugis and Lavender area if you want a ride to the city, but if you only need to cross the border to Woodlands where you can board a taxi later on, there’s no reason not to take it, considering there’s no more public transport available.

Availability: Depending on the willingness of the driver
Fare: Discuss with driver

Option 2: Bas Kilang

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The humble Bas Kilang ferries Malaysian workers across to Singapore for work daily, and some may depart in the middle of the night in order to match graveyard shifts of the workers. These distinct blue buses, if they decide to fetch you, will only take you to Woodlands Checkpoint as individual buses will head off to their own specific destination. You should also expect all the workers who have paid for this service to board the bus before the driver allows anyone else to hitch a ride.

Board the bus with the desperate shoving crowd and pay RM2 directly to the driver when alighting.

Pro-tip: I know you are thinking that the side of the bus reads as “Bas Pekerja”. No one really calls it that way except the person who painted the words on and probably Singaporeans. Call it “Bas Kilang” when you are hitching a ride to sound like you’re a seasoned traveller.

Availability: Depending on the willingness of the driver
Fare: RM2

Option 3: Walk

It may be technically not allowed to walk across the Causeway with the opening of the Sultan Iskandar CIQ Complex but people do it on a daily basis and you can find a pedestrian on the bridge at any second of the day. The only problem is that there’s no proper pavement to walk on from the viaduct of Sultan Iskandar CIQ Complex to the bridge itself. But no worries, all you have to do is cross the road to the opposing side and walk in the opposing direction of the vehicles heading for Johor Bahru. You will then reach the pavement on the Johor-Singapore Causeway (eastward, away from the railway tracks), which will be easy enough to walk on. There is an entrance to Woodlands Checkpoint from this pavement.

Availability: Always
Fare: Free – or you could buy a hoverboard or e-scooter like the many people who use this method during peak hours

Option 4: Stay overnight in JB

Why not take out the risks and stresses of midnight border crossings and just stay in JB? Hotels are comparatively more affordable than in Singapore and you’ll have the whole day to decide when you wish to cross back to Singapore.

Availability: Search here for Johor Bahru hotels with Agoda

After your hotel stay, click here for border crossing options during the day (5.30am – 12.30am).


This guide should only be used in desperate situations, and does not equate to a travel idea, recommendation, support or endorsement of any kind by RailTravel Station. You should be aware that the bus options listed here are non-ticketed, and therefore if there are any mishaps, you will definitely not be covered by insurance or any other forms of liability as you are not a legal passenger.

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ETS Gold x Ekspres Selatan x Shuttle Tebrau: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by “Night Train”

This post is about the travel experience onboard the ETS Gold, Ekspres Selatan and Shuttle Tebrau.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Gold information page.

Click here to visit the dedicated Ekspres Selatan information page.

Click here to visit the dedicated Shuttle Tebrau information page.


Following the cessation of through KTM Intercity services on the electrified double track sectors and the truncation of KTM Intercity services to JB Sentral, the Kuala Lumpur to Singapore night journey is now broken and the journey takes 3 trains with 2 transfers.


The “night train” to Singapore from KL is first formed of the 9221dn ETS Gold service from Padang Besar.

This train departs KL Sentral at 1.22am.

The (lack of) passengers on board this train as compared to daytime trains due to the illogical arrangement.

It still gets full on peak days where people are desperate and bus tickets are sold out though.

Not going to get good sleep on the ETS thanks to you, KTM. The irony.

The 9221dn ETS Gold arrives at Gemas at 3.40am, a quick 2 hour and 18 minute journey from KL Sentral.

The 44up Ekspres Selatan arrived shortly after the arrival of the ETS, which means it was delayed. This train will form the 45dn Ekspres Selatan to JB Sentral.

Nevertheless, another easy cross-platform transfer between the 9221dn ETS Gold and the 45dn Ekspres Selatan.

A quick locomotive swap later, and this train is now officially the 45dn Ekspres Selatan. Looks like the previous locomotive might have a slight problem owing to the delay of the 44up.

The interior of my private ASC (INKA) coach. Or more like there’s no one taking this coach on my journey.

The ASC (INKA) seats are way more comfortable than the ones on the ETS, so I was able to sleep for a while.

This train departs Gemas at 4.10am, a 30 minute transit from the 9221dn.

I woke up with the sun as my alarm clock.

Arrived at JB Sentral at 8.25am.

To transfer to the Shuttle Tebrau, you need to go up to the waiting hall to cross over to Gate A of JB Sentral. The link from the platform to the immigration counter is no longer allowed to be used as it will cross into the path of Shuttle Tebrau passengers.

The last leg of this long and arduous journey – the 73dn Shuttle Tebrau.

This train departs at 9am.

The empty first coach of the train, since I took this train on a Sunday morning. The train is crowded towards the rear as that’s where the immigration doors at Woodlands Train Checkpoint are.

The 73dn Shuttle Tebrau arrived at Woodlands CIQ at 9.05am, but no photos are allowed, hence this plain paragraph here.

The total journey time from KL Sentral to Woodlands CIQ is 7 hours and 17 minutes.

After the timetable change on 1 February 2017, this combination will still be in existence, with a change in train numbers from 9221dn ETS Gold to 9525dn.

Would I recommend this journey to anyone?

Not at all. It’s tiring, time consuming and difficult to sleep in when seated (and awaken halfway) throughout the night. My non-existent neighbours on the ETS Gold and Ekspres Selatan made a wiser choice than I did.

Take the night bus instead.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the ETS Gold, Ekspres Selatan and Shuttle Tebrau.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Gold information page.

Click here to visit the dedicated Ekspres Selatan information page.

Click here to visit the dedicated Shuttle Tebrau information page.

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Ekspres Selatan x ETS Gold: Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur via Pulau Sebang (Tampin) by Train

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Ekspres Selatan and ETS Gold.

Click here to visit the dedicated Ekspres Selatan information page.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Gold information page.


The 40up Ekspres Selatan is the only KTM Intercity train still plying a portion of the electrified double track section of KTM’s network. The train consists of donated Blue Train coaches, classified as BSC in KTM, and plies between JB Sentral and Pulau Sebang (Tampin).

The train departs on time at 8.45am and runs early at all stations due to the buffer time KTM has factored in for the train.

Excess buffer time means a 40-minute wait at Kluang according to the timetable, as the crossing time with the 27dn Ekspres Rakyat Timuran is also buffered.

The 27dn Ekspres Rakyat Timuran, arriving in Kluang on time.

The manufacturer and operator plates of the BDNS (スハネフ), belonging to JR Kyushu (九州旅客鉄道) and Niigata Engineering (新潟鐵工所).

Passing through palm plantations in Johor.

A different scenery for the former Blue Train coaches.

On the exterior, you can still see the original new-style JR logo on the side of the coach where it’s been painted over.

“JR x KTM Intercity”

After Gemas, the Blue Train coaches probably feel at home with the modern track in good condition.

More plantations in Negeri Sembilan.

The 40up Ekspres Selatan arrives in Pulau Sebang (Tampin) 20 minutes early.

The connecting KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector train is stabled at the opposite platform for convenient cross-platform transfers, but it’s necessary to go upstairs to validate your Touch n’ Go or buy a ticket before you board, so it kind of defeats the platform arrangement here.

Below the peeling of the BSC‘s paint, you can see the original cream, pink and blue livery of the Moonlight Kyushu (ムーンライト九州) and Resort and Spur (リゾート&シュプール) coaches. Contrary to popular belief, the donated BSC coaches are not part of the Fuji Hayabusa (富士はやぶさ) formations.


After around 1 hour’s wait, the 9202up ETS Gold pulls in to the platform for me to continue my journey to KL.

The interior of my coach with the crowd at the bistro behind.

The extensive food menu available on board…

… versus the actual food offering on board. Once again, I proved that the ETS only sells the basic Nasi Lemak, Bee Hoon Goreng and Mee Goreng. Only this time, the Mee Goreng isn’t available too.

So much for the “Dim Sum pun ada!” advertisements everywhere. I have never seen it on board before.

But since there was no catering service in the Ekspres Selatan, I bought the Nasi Lemak combo, as always.

A close-up of the usual Nasi Lemak.

The KL skyline as seen from my seat, with the site of Bandar Malaysia and the future Singapore – Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail in the foreground.

Arrived at KL Sentral 3 minutes late at 5.14pm.

The total journey time from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur with this combination takes 8 hours and 26 minutes.

Would I suggest this journey to anyone?

It’s of no use as the Ekspres Selatan service to Pulau Sebang (Tampin) will be discontinued from 1 February 2017. Even if you are travelling to Batang Melaka ot Pulau Sebang (Tampin), you have to change trains at Gemas. There will not be any more direct trains to and from Pulau Sebang (Tampin) and Batang Melaka to the south.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Ekspres Selatan and ETS Gold.

Click here to visit the dedicated Ekspres Selatan information page.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Gold information page.

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Starmart Express: Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by Bus

DISCLAIMER: I took this journey before the bedbugs issue appeared on the news. I personally did not experience this issue when I took this journey in September 2016. This blog post does not equate to a recommendation but rather just another option for travel between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Starmart Express offers one of the most frequent bus departures between Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, with an average of 1 bus every half an hour from 6am to midnight at 00 and 30 of the hour, with additional departures at 15 and 45 of the hour or additional buses at existing departure times during peak periods.

While departing from Singapore at the usual “Golden Mile”, Starmart operates out of Golden Mile Tower, which is closer to Nicoll Highway MRT Station, rather than Golden Mile Complex.

Whether you have pre-booked your ticket physically at the counter or online such as through Easybook like me, you have to visit their office to “check-in” before departure ie. get your bus number. They will write your bus number on the A4 printout of your online ticket – no ticket exchange is necessary.


Starmart has many buses awaiting a midnight departure.

The interior of my initial Starmart bus.

While checking tickets, I was informed to change to another bus behind this to go direct to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), my intended destination. The staff were exchanging passengers from the additional departures so that buses can proceed direct to the two possible drop-off points of TBS and Berjaya Times Square rather than having all buses stop at TBS first and then proceed to Berjaya Times Square.

The interior of my actual Starmart bus to Kuala Lumpur.

My “bed” for the night.

Considering that there’s no jam on the highway in the wee hours of the morning, I arrived in TBS just before 5am, a little too early for my liking. But better than getting stuck in a jam in the day.

Despite the early arrival, TBS’s arrival platforms seem more crowded at 5am than during the day.

You can get your Starmart Express tickets online through Easybook.

From here, I got on the KTM Komuter Early Bird Service from Bandar Tasik Selatan to KL Sentral.

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Kluang RailCoffee Refreshed: A Revisit

After the rather disappointing visit after the July renovations before, I decided to go back again to see if any improvements were made after a few months.

The telur kampungs are finally back to the Kluang RailCoffee quality as I knew it before. Perhaps the strange looking eggs the last time was a trial on some new system they might have ordered but failed massively.

The roti bun looks and tastes worse than my previous visit. Not only is it soft and at room temperature, the bun itself looks barely toasted.

The kopi ais wasn’t good too. It’s probably confirmed to pre-made as I saw them simply pouring cold drinks from a central jug.

The new menu, though, saves the day. The new cucur ikan bilis (anchovies fritters) was served hot and crispy, with a side of chilli sauce that I almost missed since the colour of the sauce blended too well with the new plate.

The waffles are also served hot – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The batter is rather thick as well if you like hearty waffles. You can choose between butter, kaya or chocolate on the menu, but I’m pretty sure they can do other fillings they have lying around the kitchen too, as I saw someone get a peanut butter waffle.

A close-up of the generous filling in the waffles.

While the original menu seems disappointing when compared with the past, the new snacks available seem to make up for it a little. And thankfully I didn’t see the club sandwiches and hot plate chicken chop on the menu in the Kluang Railway Station outlet as compared with the franchises in the city, which doesn’t seem very original to me.

Will I be back? For the atmosphere and some hope of good food, I guess Kluang RailCoffee is here to stay.

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MRT Purple Line: Tao Poon – Khlong Bang Phai (A Preview)

The MRT Purple Line, also officially known as the MRT Chalong Ratchadham Line, is the newest rapid transit system to open in Thailand, linking the Bangkok Metropolitan Region with Nonthaburi Province.

The MRT Purple Line operates with 21 3-car trainsets manufactured by Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC) (formerly known as Tokyu Car Corporation), a subsidiary of East Japan Railway Company (JR East). This is J-TREC’s first overseas project and the second project after the new E235 Series for the Yamanote Line in Tokyo, Japan.


An E233-5000 Series operating on the Keiyo Line approaching Maihama Station.

The J-TREC sustina for the MRT Purple Line also seems vaguely based on the existing E233 Series in operation in Japan, with added features based on MRTA’s order, most noticeably the front emergency detrainment door and external sliding leaf doors.

Inside the train, it does not feel like the actual E233 Series but what you would expect from an evolution of the BTS and MRT Blue Line rolling stock, with some Japanese improvements.

The passenger information screen above every door provides route information with the side of the doors opening when approaching and at the station. Having such an LED screen also allows for future changes to the layout of the screen without spending additional money on hardware upgrades, and future-proofs extensions of the line to Rat Burana in Samut Prkaan Province via Bangkok’s old quarter, Golden Mount and Wongwian Yai.

In the middle of the seating area, the usual advertising and information screens similar to the BTS and MRT Blue Line can be found.

As the MRT Purple Line is not connected to the rest of the Bangkok Rapid Transit Network yet due to the missing link between Bang Sue and Tao Poon, you may continue your journey between these two station by free shuttle buses, or catch a free shuttle train between Bang Sue and Bang Son on weekday peak hours.

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MRT Purple Line Missing Link: Bang Sue – Bang Son Free Shuttle Train

With the opening of the MRT Purple Line between Tao Poon and Khlong Bang Phai, there is a missing link to the rest of the Bangkok Metro network as the section of the MRT Blue Line between Tao Poon and Bang Sue has not been completed.

As a replacement, there are free shuttle trains on top of free shuttle buses plying between Bang Sue and Bang Son until the missing link is completed. The free shuttle trains operate only on weekday peak hours at 15-minute intervals.

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The free shuttle train service is provided by SRT with British Rail Class 158/T Sprinter DMUs.

Connect to the MRT Purple Line at Bang Son MRT Station.

The free shuttle train service between Bang Sue and Bang Son operate during weekday peak hours only, from 6.30am to 9.30am and again from 4.30pm to 8.30pm, operating at 15 minute intervals. The boarding location is the same as the waiting area for the free shuttle buses at Bang Sue Railway Station Platform 1.