Vietnam Railways SE5: Bien Hoa to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) by Train

On my trip from London to Singapore, I made my Vietnamese portion of the journey from the border of Dong Dang to Hanoi, and planned to continue down from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, only for the journey to be truncated at Bien Hoa just about an hour short of Ho Chi Minh City due to the collapse of the Ghenh Bridge over the Dong Nai River.

To complete the missing rail link from London to York and all the way down to Bien Hoa before getting on the transhipment bus and train via Song Than to Ho Chi Minh City, I decided to get a Grab from Ho Chi Minh City back to Bien Hoa to complete this short but significant leg.

The repaired Ghenh Bridge for the railway as seen from the parallel vehicular Buu Hoa Bridge.

The shorter Rach Cat Bridge which preceeds the Ghenh Bridge when heading in the southbound direction.

Crossing the railway tracks, looking towards Bien Hoa.

Hello again, Bien Hoa Railway Station.

The last time I stepped here, it was pretty dark.

The facade of Bien Hoa Railway Station in the afternoon.

Looks a lot more welcoming than my early morning 4.30am shot 2 years ago.

First order of the day: get a train ticket back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Fun fact: Vietnam Railways operate with a similar ticketing procedure as Kereta Api Indonesia – you need an initial ticket (be it booked online or in person or through an agent, whichever) and then get your boarding pass from one of the orange (Hmm.) check-in kiosks around the station. If your online ticket already has a QR code on it, you can simply print that out and use it as your boarding pass, or just flash it on your phone to scan on the gantries or hald-held scanners used by the coach attendants.

However, for immediate departures, the ticket counter can also issue the boarding pass directly upon purchase. Here’s my ticket/boarding pass for the SE5 landmark trip from Bien Hoa to Ho Chi Minh City.

The one-way ticket for this short journey costs VND 30,000 (~S$1.77) on a Soft Seat.

The Hanoi-bound SE10 at the platform, which was delayed due to the late arrival of the Ho Chi Minh City-bound SPT1. Entry to the platform is by checking of the boarding pass only.

Seems like an advertisement by Saigon Railway Transport Company Limited (SRT) advertising about their new coaches. SRT is a subsidiary of Vietnam Railways (Đường Sắt Việt Nam – DSVN), which I think it’s like how JR in Japan has different companies operating in different regions. (The northern counterpart to SRT is Hanoi Railway Transport One Member Limited Company (HRT).)

The SRT here is not to be confused with the State Railway of Thailand, also abbreviated as SRT.

The waiting area of Bien Hoa Railway Station.

The SE5 was delayed by about 45 minutes to around 6.40pm.

Once the train was about the arrive, announcements were made in the station and the staff opened the doors to the platform. There were more people on this evening train to Ho Chi Minh City than I had expected.

Ah, I remember this platform.

The D19E locomotive manufactured by CRRC Ziyang hauling the SE5 today.

Oh what’s this?

Seems like the SE5 operates with new coaches too – a real bonus for me.

As the sleeper coaches were all up in front, I had to walk back to the rear of the train to access my Soft Seat coach at Coach 2. The coach attendant will be at the door to check for boarding passes.

The interior of the Soft Seat coach. With the height of the coach matching the sleeper coaches, there was lots of headroom when walking along the aisle.

The washroom of the new coaches. Hmm… Why does this feel familiar? But not that it reminded me of Vietnam.

Ah, I see – these coaches are most probably made in China, just like lots of other trains around the region nowadays.

Here’s a photo of a washroom on board a typical Chinese coach for reference.

The sink area has definitely improved tremendously.

The hot water dispenser is also available on this new coach.

The seats on the new Soft Seat coaches seems to recline a bit too much, so look out for the person behind you.

The comfortable legroom on board the Soft Seat.

The sticker on the tray table lets you know how to operate the new Soft Seat, since it now comes with calf rests and USB chargers as compared to the simple one-function recline on the legacy coaches.

The view of the Soft Seat coach from my seat.

The passenger information system at the ends of the coach tells you the current date and time, temperature and availability of the washroom on that side of the coach.

The approaching station names also scrolls by, whether the train actually stops there or not.

This is followed by the current speed of the train.

Passing over the Ghenh Bridge and heading towards Song Than – mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, Song Than has now reverted to become a freight-only station. It was only used as a passenger station for the transhipment train, which kind of explains now why I didn’t see any ticket counters or even seats at the platform the last time. There are no more passenger trains stopping at Song Than.

The overall space you get when travelling on the Soft Seat.

The spacious overhead luggage rack due to the height of the coach. You could probably fit in a full-sized suitcase in there, but I wouldn’t recommend it lest you get decapitated when the train jerks.

The best part about the new Soft Seat coaches? Individually controlled reading lights and air-conditioning vents. This is in addition to the general lighting and air-conditioning.

Crossing over the Saigon River by the Binh Loi Bridge.

Next station: Sai Gon.

Crossing over the Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe Canal.

Arrived in Sai Gon Railway Station. The station still bears the old name of Ho Chi Minh City, just like how locals actually call Ho Chi Minh City as despite the official name change.

The overall interior of the new Soft Seat coach.

The additional calf rests really plays a part for long-distance journeys. Keep in mind that people actually spend potentially more than 36 hours in this seat from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Also, to other railway operator(s) out there who think that they’re the best in the region but aren’t actually doing much to maintain their service, the Soft Seat with generous recline, calf rests, wall sockets and USB socket behind the tray table is the cheapest and lowest class available on the SE5.

The new SRT (Saigon) coaches has a dual-mode step by the door for both low and high platforms, just like the new SRT (Thailand) coaches.

The new coaches also bear the name of Đường Sắt Sài Gòn instead of Đường Sắt Việt Nam.

The new SRT logo as seen on the coaches.

Not sure which date is which, but either way, they are still pretty new and less than 6 months old.

As Sai Gon is the southernmost railway station in Vietnam and the whole of the main Europe-Asia railway network, the locomotive heads around the rake since there’s nowhere else south to go to.

In comes the D9E shunter to shunt off the rake back into the yard.

The southernmost buffer stop at the end of the headshunt of the Vietnamese railway network as well as the entire interconnected Europe-Asia railway.

Crossing the tracks to head to the station building.

Seems like the slower SNT2 has the new coaches too. I wouldn’t mind spending the slower journey in the new 4-berth Soft Sleeper.

The facade of the exit feels familiar too.

Except that new gantries are installed for you to scan your boarding pass before boarding the train. To exit, take the small door on the right.

The check-in kiosks to print your boarding pass at Sai Gon Railway Station. You can also use these machines to check for train schedules.

The ticket office has also moved to the ground floor.

The side facade (facing the main road entrance) of Sai Gon Railway Station.

Overall, a simple journey to cover a short missing line turned out to be an eye-opening experience to the new modern improvements for passenger comfort on the Vietnam Railways. The facilities and comfort made the 40-minute journey non-stop journey from Bien Hoa to Sai Gon feel like just 10, which is making me consider a longer journey with these new coaches. Hmm…

Anyway, back to the main purpose of this journey, London to Singapore on my Vietnamese missing link: COMPLETED.


Royal Railway (SHV-PP): Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh by Train

Immediately after arriving at Sihanoukville, it was time to head back. There was nothing much to do in Sihanoukville anyway, and since the train ride is the main attraction, might as well cover it as much as possible in a single day right? Moreover, I had a long journey ahead to catch my flight.

The SHV-PP-1600 train which was supposed to depart at 4pm did not depart right then due to the late arrival of the previous PP-SHV-0700 train at 3.45pm.

As the crew refuelled the generator set inside the box car, no electricity was available to power the coach, so it would be more comfortable to wait outside on the platform.

The rake at Sihanoukville awaiting departure as soon as the locomotive gets refuelled.

The air-conditioning units are mounted below the train car body. In a way, this allows for cleaner air to enter the coach since the soot from the locomotive wouldn’t reach the bottom of the train that quickly.

Royal Railway operates with BS80A rails, with the concrete sleepers bearing the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) initials.

Once done with refuelling, the locomotive heads to the front of the rake.

Coupling the locomotive to the rake.

On the return trip, the crew herded all the passengers to Coach B citing that Coach A is “hot” as the reason. I opted to get into the private room at the front of Coach B for a more comfortable and chilly ride.

Departing from Sihanoukville Railway Station. The SHV-PP-1600 train departed at 4.40pm – 40 minutes delayed from schedule.

The sunset view along Prek Treng Beach.

More sunset views on the way to Kampot.

By the time the train got to Kampot, it was pitch dark almost everywhere.

The brightest area around was probably inside the coach itself.

Nevertheless, the food stalls at Kampot Railway Station continue to remain open for this train.

I got myself some rice and side dishes from the station stall for dinner.

Some passengers from Kampot also continued to load up their motorbikes from Kampot to Phnom Penh.

My dinner for the ride back – white rice with omelette, a piece of pork meat and a pork sausage. This set me back KHR 6,000 or USD 1.50 (~S$2.00) – a value which can’t be obtained in Singapore. Tasted pretty okay, a little more salty than my palette but it seems to be the case for most Cambodian food I’ve tried. At least I had the rice and lots of water which I purchased on the initial trip with me.

After dinner towards Touk Meas, I was once again herded to the common area of Coach B. Oh well, at least I had a little bit of a “chartered train” moment – a vast difference from the fully booked ride to Sihanoukville.

The overall interior of Coach B, which was significantly warmer than the private room. Guess there was some feedback from the passengers for the staff to raise the temperature.

The SHV-PP-1600 train arrived back in Phnom Penh at around 12.30am – around 120 minutes delayed from schedule. This makes a grand total of me spending 17.5 hours on the railway of Cambodia on this single continuous trip, combined with the first PP-SHV-0700 train.

Unloading the motorbikes from the box car.

With the late arrival in Phnom Penh, I decided to head back to the hotel by the free Grab ride available (Promo code: GRABTRAIN).

The very quiet Phnom Penh Railway Station at night. The station is still open for the Airport Shuttle Train which runs 24 hours.

The facade of Phnom Penh Railway Station before hopping into my JustGrab, an air-conditioned car instead of a Tuk Tuk.

Overall, just like my initial ride to Sihanoukville, the SHV-PP-1600 train isn’t the fastest way to get from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, but when the train is the main destination for the trip, I guess it doesn’t really matter. The afternoon train also makes for a time-effective way to depart from Sihanoukville after a night’s stay and a morning walkabout, but may get you into Phnom Penh a little too late for comfort.

For a relaxing way to travel across Cambodia and beat the traffic jams, get on the Royal Railway trains.

Royal Railway (PP-SHV): Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by Train

Royal Railway operates the sole railway network in Cambodia, with the main railway line running between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. I decided to give the revived railway a shot on a Sunday as it is the only day in the week that has a train which runs in both directions twice a day, enabling me to complete the line in a single day.

Click here for Royal Railway service information.

I got to Phnom Penh Railway Station with the GrabTukTuk service since it was free with the GRABTRAIN promo code and it’s a lot more comfortable than walking.

Do note that your pick-up/drop-off point must be the designated Phnom Penh Railway Station Grab pick-up/drop-off point in order for the system to accept your free ride.

A thumbs up from the driver of my GrabTukTuk.

The Phnom Penh Railway Station comes alive at around 6.30am with passengers streaming in for the 7am train to Sihanoukville.

Inside the waiting hall with seats fully taken up.

Once boarding calls are made by the staff, proceed to the platform with your ticket in hand. A staff member will be at the platform gate to check for tickets.

If you are bringing along your car, you need to arrive at the station 1 hour before departure to load it onto the train.

Motorcycles can also be brought on board and will be stored in a covered box car.

My train is made up of 2 German coaches manufactured in Uerdingen. I’m supposing that this used to be the former non-air-conditioned Yellow Train which has since been fitted with air-conditioning and converted to a normal coach.

The PP-SHV-0700 train at Phnom Penh Railway Station hauled by Alsthom locomotive number BB1055.

The overall interior of Coach A.

Seats on Coach A are reversible according to the direction of travel.

You can change the direction of the seat by adjusting the seat back.

My ticket for this trip.

Coach A is cooled by 2 units of of Panasonic Inverter air-conditioners.

The buffers and chain coupling for this rake.

The very clean washroom on board.

The train was fully booked for the weekend ride to Sihanoukville.

The PP-SHV-0700 train was delayed for around 15 minutes to wait for the incoming Airport Shuttle Train.

The gangway platform between the two cars.

Departing from Phnom Penh Railway Station.

A short while after departure, the conductor comes around to collect everyone’s tickets.

Approaching the junction to the Airport branch line.

Splitting off to Sihanoukville. The other line will head towards Poipet by the end of this year, and hopefully to Bangkok, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur and Woodlands CIQ too.

The typical scenery just 1 hour out of Phnom Penh.

Drinks and instant noodles are available for purchase on board at the end of Coach A.

A variety of cold drinks are on offer at this little store, along with Thai Mama Instant Noodles. Each item costs KHR 3,000.

The scenery on the way to Takeo.

Smiling Cambodian children at their villages along the way.

Approaching Takeo Railway Station.

The train makes a 15-minute stop at Takeo for passengers to stretch their legs or to buy refreshments from the stalls at the station.

The interior and platform of Takeo Railway Station.

Local stalls are available selling drinks and snacks.

Departing from Takeo Railway Station.

Passing a level crossing and a local market just after the station.

Glad that the air-conditioning unit is below the coach instead of mounted on the roof.

The scenery on the way to Touk Meas Railway Station.

Arriving at Touk Meas Railway Station to cross with the opposing passenger train.

A loop line is available at the station, but the ballast train is taking up the section.

That’s a… creative way to load ballast up to the wagons.

The ballast wagons up ahead.

That’s a pretty safe fouling point as well.

The train exceeds the station limits to be pushed back into the loop line, which is treated as a siding instead.

Entering the loop line/siding.

And now we wait…

Some former shorter pieces of track are now welded together to form continuously welded rail on the main line.

The wait for the train took around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

What I thought will be the opposing SHV-PP-0700 passenger train turned out to be a cargo train.

The mixed cargo train was hauled by a CRRC Qishuyan CKD6D diesel-electric locomotive numbered BB1061.

2 locomotives? Probably really long.

First up, the oil tankers.

A box car in the middle possibly acting as an adapter for coupling.

Followed by a lot of container wagons. I forgot to count how many wagons there were in total but it took around 5 minutes for the train to pass.

The tailboard signifying (finally) the end of the train.

The rear of the really long cargo train.

My PP-SHV-0700 train continues to remain at Touk Meas, still waiting for the opposing SHV-PP-0700 passenger train.

This is a ridiculously far and ridiculously safe fouling point.

Decided to venture out to the field to get this shot.

After about another half an hour, the crew decided to shunt the train to the main line to allow the incoming passenger train to enter the loop line/siding instead.

Pushing back into the main line.

After another 45 minutes, the opposing passenger train is finally in sight.

The opposing SHV-PP-0700 train was also hauled by a CRRC Qishuyan CKD6D locomotive, numbered BB1060. As Royal Railway has only 2 such locomotives, I’ve technically spotted the full fleet of these modern locomotives in Cambodia.

The box car for hotel power and motorbikes, repainted into the blue passenger coach livery.

The SHV-PP-0700 train was made up of 4 passenger coaches.

As the railway network has no trackside signalling system in place, my train could depart immediately as the opposing SHV-PP-0700 train pulled into the loop line/siding and the point ahead was flipped.

The opposing SHV-PP-0700 train has knuckle coupler adapters via additional wagons at the ends of the rake for it to be compatible with the CRRC Qishuyan CKD6D locomotive.

Finally departing from Touk Meas Railway Station after about a 2.5 hour wait.

The scenery on the way to Kampot.

A short while after, it started to rain.

Thankfully, the rain cleared as the train was pulling in to Kampot Railway Station, so it was easier to walk around the platform and station.

Arrived at Kampot.

A norry is used as a maintenance vehicle here.

Stalls are available for food and drinks, similar to Takeo.

Many passengers alighted here at Kampot.

Looking towards Bokor Hill from Kampot Railway Station.

The interior of the emptied-out train, save for a few passengers going to Sihanoukville.

The interior of Coach B, which has fixed facing bays of seats instead of the bi-directional seats in Coach A.

A small oil tanker with bogies removed by the side of Kampot Railway Station, with a CCTV mounted on top.

Departing from Kampot.

Between Kampot and Sihanoukville, you will get to see a glimpse of the waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

The line between Kampot and Sihanoukville offers the most scenic routes of the train journey.

Approaching Sihanoukville with the view of the waters of Chhak Kampong Som.

Passing by houses by the railway track while approaching the station.

Entering Sihanoukville Railway Station.

Arrived at Sihanoukville Railway Station at 3.45pm – 105 minutes delayed from schedule.

The locomotive gets decoupled to run around the train to shunt the wagons carrying the road vehicles to the other end of the train.

The interior of the Sihanoukville Railway Station building.

The facade of Sihanoukville Railway Station.

The entrance to Sihanoukville Railway Station.

Sihanoukville Railway Station is located near the deep water port of Sihanoukville which is north of the main town and far away from the usual tourist haunts. It seems that getting the rip-off tuk-tuks from the station is the only option to get out of Sihanoukville Railway Station.

Heading back into the station to catch my SHV-PP-1600 train, which will be the same rake that will be turned around.

A motorbike selling Num Pang, which is the Cambodian version of Banh Mi, showed up at the station. I got myself a Num Pang Pâté for US$1.

With the vehicles wagon now at the front (rear?) of the train, the rake gets shunted to the loop line with a ramp to unload the vehicles.

The staff on the ground communicates with the driver through walkie-talkies.

Over here was the best shunting I have seen in the world – the train slowed to a stop, gently touching the scotch block. No jerks, extra braking or even any sounds heard as the train drifted to a soft stop.

The crew then proceed to undo the lashing straps.

First off – a Remork (Cambodian Tuk-Tuk). It was pretty scary to watch, with the moto needing to ride on the buffer and additional metal plate, but it was fine in the end.

Offloading the cars was a pretty straightforward affair.

At the same time, the locomotive decouples from the rake and heads back on the main line for refuelling.

The fuel pump gets pulled across from the main fuel tank to the main line to top up the locomotive for its return trip on the SHV-PP-1600 train.

Overall, the PP-SHV-0700 train isn’t the fastest way to get from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, especially when waiting for trains to cross at Touk Meas, but when the train is the main destination for the trip, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Moreover, I’m pretty sure the scenery from the train especially between Kampot and Sihanoukville makes up for the additional time required by train.

For a relaxing way to travel across Cambodia and beat the traffic jams, get on the Royal Railway trains.

Royal Railway Airport Shuttle Train: Phnom Penh International Airport to Phnom Penh Railway Station by Train

The Royal Railway Airport Shuttle Train is Cambodia’s first airport rail link, connecting Phnom Penh International Airport in Pochentong to Phnom Penh Railway Station in the heart of the city. The journey time takes around 40 minutes, with trains running at about 90 minute intervals, 24 hours a day.

Fares for the Airport Shuttle Train are free of charge from 10 April to 31 July 2018.

Royal Railway has a counter at the Phnom Penh International Airport arrival hall should you have any queries, and presumably to sell tickets for the Airport Shuttle Train here from 1 August 2018 onwards.

Fares for the Airport Shuttle Train are free of charge from 10 April to 31 July 2018.

However, the Airport Shuttle Train is actually running every 90 minutes rather than 30 minutes as advertised. This will hopefully change once the three new diesel railcars from Mexico arrive.

Follow the signs around the terminal building to get to the Airport Shuttle Train.

You may find it easier to walk across the car park should it get too congested in the terminal building.

The Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station is located across the car park.

If it’s raining, you can walk by the food outlets where there is a little bit of shelter.

Signs are available in Khmer, English, French, Mandarin (albeit incorrect), Korean and Japanese.

Head up the ramp to the waiting room.

The Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station waiting room is air-conditioned with ample seats for you to wait for the Airport Shuttle Train.

There is also a manned counter for service information should you have any queries, and presumably to sell tickets as well from 1 August 2018 onwards.

The platform of Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.

Towards the end of the line, there is a tree stump, probably for the driver to get off the locomotive easily.

The makeshift buffer stop at the end of the line. Don’t think it will actually stop anything though.

The view of Phnom Penh International Airport from the railway station.

As the station is located within the compounds of Phnom Penh International Airport, the railway station is fenced up with a gate for trains to enter.

The line will cross Russian Federation Boulevard to run on 105K Street to reach the main line.

When the train is arriving, the Royal Railway staff will head out on the road to stop vehicles from passing.

The Airport Shuttle Train crossing Russian Federation Boulevard to Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Airport Shuttle Train entering Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.

The Airport Shuttle Train only operated with a single locomotive on a Saturday.

Passengers boarding the Airport Shuttle Train at Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.

The hauling locomotive is manufactured in Czechoslovakia in 1994.

Royal Railway uses the buffers and chain coupling for most of their trains.

The interior of the Airport Shuttle Train coach. Longitudinal seating is adopted to maximize passenger capacity including standees. The Airport Shuttle Train is treated as a tram or light rail system.

Departing from Phnom Penh International Airport Railway Station.

As the rear is operated without a locomotive, the crew radios back to the locomotive driver at the back if the line is clear or not.

Crossing Russian Federation Boulevard to head onto 105K Street.

The crew at the rear of the train also tells motorists to get away from the tracks.

Motorists getting away from the train at 105K Street.

Approaching the junction to the main line at Tang Korsang.

Taking a left turn to the main line, which actually heads toward Sihanoukville, Poipet, Bangkok, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur and Woodlands CIQ instead of a right turn direct to Phnom Penh. This slight detour and change of direction is so that no building was needed to be demolished to make way for the Airport Shuttle Train.

Merging with the main line at Tang Korsang.

Looking towards Sihanoukville, Poipet, Bangkok, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur and Woodlands CIQ.

Heading to Phnom Penh on the main line.

Splitting away from the Airport branch line on 105K Street.

Time for a quick visit to the very clean washroom.

Most of the main line runs through houses lined on both sides of the track.

The Airport Shuttle Train is cooled by 5 units of Panasonic Inverter air-conditioners.

Overhead grab rails are also installed for standing passengers. However, the ride was smooth enough for me not to hold onto anything when walking inside the coach.

Approaching Phnom Penh Railway Station with the view of disused locomotive sheds on the right side.

Some old car bodies lined at the side in front of the locomotive shed. Hopefully Royal Railway has plans to refurbish them into working coaches again to boost passenger capacity on their trains.

Fun fact: All passenger coaches in Royal Railway were refurbished for the railway revival – there were no new coaches purchased.

Entering Phnom Penh Railway Station.

Arrived at Phnom Penh Railway Station. The journey took 37 minutes.

Phnom Penh Railway Station is located in the heart of Phnom Penh with most attractions accessible from here within a 2km radius.

The maintenance staff topping up fuel for the generator providing hotel power to the coach.

The Airport Shuttle Train at Phnom Penh Railway Station.

The builder plate of the ČKD Praha locomotive. ČKD (Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk) was one of the largest engineering companies in the former Czechoslovakia and today’s Czech Republic.

Upon arrival, you’ll be approached by lots of Grab signs.

If you need a ride from the station, just key in GRABTRAIN in the promo code box to get a free ride of up to KHR 12,000 value. A typical 5-minute ride away costs KHR 3,000 so this free ride gets you pretty far I’d say. This promotion is for both new and existing users. I’m guessing that this promotion should be valid till 31 July 2018, along with the free travel on the Airport Shuttle Train.

The Airport Shuttle Train departing back to Phnom Penh International Airport.

In the station, there’s lots of improvements since the last time I visited 2 years ago. Lots of seats are available in the waiting hall now.

A new coffee stall aptly named Restart Coffee is also in place.

Self check-in counters are also available at Phnom Penh Railway Station if you’d like to check-in while waiting for your train.

Note that these computers simply link you to the airlines’ websites for you to complete the online check-in process and print your A4-sized boarding pass. It does not allow you to check your bags at the station.

The future rolling stock of the Airport Shuttle Train.

The refreshed facade of Phnom Penh Railway Station.

From here, Vattanac Capital is located just outside of the station, and Central Market is just a 5-minute walk away. You can also get on the KK STAR LRT shuttle bus service or Grab for free around the city area as mentioned above.

Overall, the Airport Shuttle Train does not exactly shave travel time between the airport and city taking the waiting time into account – I waited 50 minutes for the Airport Shuttle Train, bringing the total travel time including waiting to 87 minutes for the 10.2 km ride.

However, it is important to note that this locomotive-hauled train is only an interim arrangement to open the Airport branch line on time as the delivery for the three new diesel railcars from Mexico are delayed. This would hopefully change once the three new diesel railcars from Mexico arrive should Royal Railway operate the service with two separate railcars and having them cross behind each other at Tang Korsang junction.

Nevertheless, this is a great start for a revived railway to operate the first airport rail link in the country, and with the right attitudes and concrete short term plans already in place, the train service would only get better from here.

Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia OD580: Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh by Boeing 737-800

With a fare difference of almost 4 times more if I had flown non-stop from Changi Airport, I decided to get a bus to KL the night before instead to catch the Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia flight OD580 to get to Phnom Penh. Malindo OD580 is the only flight to Phnom Penh by Malindo, once a day.

Malindo’s check-in row for all destinations is at Row E at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

However, I’ve already completed my check-in at the KL City Air Terminal at KL Sentral earlier.

There are also new self-service check-in kiosks around the center part of the terminal.

However, a reprint of the boarding pass is not possible here after check-in.

With less than 1 and a half hours to my flight departure, I headed straight for immigration…

… only to be greeted by this “world-class” immigration queue.

However, upon closer look, the crowd was for Malaysian passport holders and the foreigner queue to the left was rather empty. Hmm.

Anyway, immigration was done in less than 10 minutes and it’s off to the customs queue.

My flight to Phnom Penh will depart from Gate C21, which is at the Satellite Building. So, it’s off to board the Aerotrain to get across.

The Aerotrain platform, with new boarding door signs.

My Aerotrain approaching.

From the Main Terminal Building and Contact Pier, it’s a straight dive down under the taxiway.

Passing under the taxiway.

Crossing with the opposing Aerotrain somewhere in the middle of the line at the curve to the Satellite Building.

Arriving at the Satellite Building.

The Aerotrain car without any external advertisements on it.

I heard about the new renovated toilets at KLIA, so since I have a little bit of time before the flight, I decided to check it out.

Yup, the toilets are stylish and modern alright, however, there are no more paper towels provided (replaced by the air washer) and it’s kind of a misfit with the other parts of the terminal which aren’t renovated.

Bye Jibby.

My “opened” gate at Gate C21. However, the security queue was at Gate C23, combining both flights departing from Gates C21 and C23.

After security, passengers were then split according to the actual departure gate.

At the departure gate during the boarding pass check, the immigration and customs declaration forms for Cambodia were given out.

Inside the gate hold room of Gate C21.

My plane was towed into the gate shortly after.

Connecting the aerobridge and loading up the food from Brahim’s SATS Food Services.

Hmm, final call for boarding when the boarding time is at 9.47am and it’s now 9.53am?

Hmm, gate closed at 9.56am when everyone is still sitting in the gate hold room? Is this TV screen operated by the same people handling the KTM Komuter departures?

Thankfully, the gate opened shortly after and the plane did not fly off without all the passengers waiting inside.

Heading down the aerobridge.

Passing through the Business Class cabin. Hmm, do you see what I see?

That’s right – no IFE on board.

Entering the Economy Class cabin.

Blacklisted seats on Malindo’s Boeing 737-800: 8A, 8F, 9A and 9F

My 16A seat with a nicely-aligned window.

The comfortable legroom on board Malindo Economy Class.

Except this.

Malindo promotes their in-flight entertainment as “an Adventure of True Onboard Cinematic Experience”. Unfortunately, I had none of that on this flight.

The cabin crew making a safety announcement for those seated at the emergency exit row.

Hmm, not sure why the lights were dimmed so much for a late morning departure.

Bye Malaysia Airlines A380s.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 in Negaraku livery.

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350-900 taking off.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 in MAS retro livery.

The queue for take-off took almost half an hour, with planes behind waiting even longer. Maybe it’d have hurt less if I had IFE.

I’ll be pretty pissed off if I were on this plane to Singapore with a half-hour queue for take-off.

Finally getting to the runway.

Goodbye KLIA.

Flying northeast from KL instead of the typical south that I usually go to.

I think it’s my first time flying over KL with clear skies, and a good view of the Petronas Twin Towers from above.

KLCC looks pretty small from up here.

Further up from the city, the cloud cover started.

Cabin lights were slightly brighter after the seat belt signs were switched off.

Oh yay, food’s here! I wonder what that could be.

There were two trolleys for the meal service – one for meal boxes only, and the other for drinks only.

Can’t wait to see what’s in the meal box!

Oh look, it’s the Chicken Pizza and Muffin again.

Not that I’m against it – it’s pretty good for airplane pizzas, but so far I’ve had this pizza and muffin combination for 100% of my Malindo flights.

You can read more about the pizza here, here, here, here and here.

After I finished my pizza, the drinks trolley came around.

I think the drinks trolley should be manned by 2 crew and the meal box trolley by only 1 since it’s quite a straightforward task to hand out the only meal choice but each passenger would have a different beverage order. This would also have both trolleys move at a hopefully equal speed.

My drinks order for the morning – coffee and apple juice. Okay, so I might have been a culprit for the slow beverage service with my two orders.

Flying out of Malaysia.

The interior of the washroom on board Malindo’s Boeing 737-800.

Flying above Cambodia.

Flying over the Mekong River with the view of Phnom Penh below.

Phnom Penh Railway Station and its surroundings from above.

Flying over the railway line, looking towards Phnom Penh.

Landed at Phnom Penh International Airport in Pochentong.

Cambodia’s Bassaka Air at Phnom Penh International Airport.

There are also a bunch of other international airlines, but are all mainly from China.

Turning into the gate at Phnom Penh International Airport.

A Cathay Dragon Airbus A320-200 in Dragonair livery heading for Hong Kong.

Arrived at the terminal building.

Disembarking from the plane.

Hmm, not too fun to be at the bulkhead seat on this plane.

Goodbye, confused premium airline branding of Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia.

Heading to the terminal building by thankfully the aerobridge.

Heading down for immigration and baggage reclaim.

Immigration was pretty quick, thanks to the bulk of arriving passengers needing to getting their visa-on-arrival. As such, it was a breeze to get through the immigration counters with no queues, and a wait of about 10 minutes for my bag at the carousel was necessary.

Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam passport holders do not require a visa to enter Cambodia.

Seems like my flight was delayed for 15 minutes. Oh well, not that I was rushing to anywhere important in Phnom Penh anyway.

Heading out after customs clearance to the arrival hall.

Immediately upon exiting the baggage reclaim area, you will see the counters for onward transport. You can get a train, bus, taxi or remork (tuk tuk) from these counters.

SIM cards are available on the counters on the right side.

I suggest getting the Cellcard Tourist SIM for US$2 for 1.4GB of data valid for 7 days. More details here. (The other SIM cards available at Cellcard as well as the other operators around offer a lot more data for US$5 and above, but I don’t think you’ll need that much for a short stay.)

From here, I got on the new Airport Shuttle Train to the city.

Overall, Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia was a pretty good choice for this ~2 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh. As I travel light, meals and check-in allowances are secondary to me for a short flight, but the reasonable fares and these frills already included are an added bonus which definitely made the whole airport and flying process more comfortable.

Looks like I’ve found my flight alternative after 1 July 2018.

KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave: KL Sentral to KLIA by Train

I chose to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh by Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia as even without factoring meals and baggage allowance, the total fare was already cheaper than other airlines flying on the same route. And since I’m flying with Malindo, I decided to check-in at the KL City Air Terminal (CAT) after breakfast for my flight, this time, with the KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave.

Remember the hiccup the last time I wanted to try getting on the KLIA Ekspres with this promotion and failed miserably?

Well, ERL now has a solution to this – flash your Visa payWave card to the staff member at the counter by the gates to the KL CAT and he or she will open the manual gate for you to enter.

The manual gates are to the left of the counter.

Once in, remember to head to the x-ray machines first to get your bags checked.

Once done, proceed for check-in as usual.

To exit the KL CAT, inform the staff again who will open the manual gate for you.

Once out, proceed straight ahead to the departure platform.

Find the fare gate with a Visa payWave reader to access the departure platform.

Tap into the system with your Visa payWave.

You will see this message as the fare gates open for you to enter.

Proceed down to the platform as per normal.

My boarding pass for my Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia OD580 flight to Phnom Penh.

There was an immediate departure on the older Siemens Desiro train set, but I decided to wait for the next train in hopes of getting the new CRRC Changchun train set.

Unfortunately, the next train was also the Siemens Desiro train set, but I opted to get on board anyway because making my flight was more important. Also, with this older train, I know that my bag will also make it to the airport as the new CRRC Changchun train set does not have a luggage compartment for checked-in bags from KL CAT (XKL).

I opted to sit in my favourite area as usual.

The typical interior of the other parts of the train.

The new CRRC Changchun train set for the KLIA Transit service pulling in at the KLIA Transit platform.

Bye KL – one of my fastest visits to the city yet.

Passing by Terminal Bersepadu Selatan where I got into KL from about just 2 hours ago.

Passing by Putrajaya & Cyberjaya ERL Station.

The KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave advertisement flashed on the TV screens on board. This is currently the cheapest possible KLIA Ekspres single trip option if you are travelling alone.

A KLIA Ekspres Siemens Desiro train set stabling outside the depot.

The new CRRC Changchun KLIA Ekspres train set resting at the depot. Looks like both KLIA Ekspres train sets were not operating this morning – luckily I didn’t wait for the third or fourth train set at KL Sentral.

Approaching KLIA.

The baggage compartment with the ramp in place to offload the checked-in bags at KLIA.

Once at the fare gates, tap out with the same Visa payWave card.

The final fare of RM46.75 after the 15% discount will be charged here at the exit gate.

Overall, the KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave is a fair deal and an actual discount without shortchanging on the terms and conditions (unlike other promotions offering additional promo codes but stinging on the fare discounts). If you are a solo traveler or traveling in a pair while the Group Saver or Family Package is on sale and making use of the KL CAT facilities at KL Sentral, the KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave is the best choice for you.

Jetstar Asia 3K284: Medan (Kuala Namu International Airport) to Singapore (Changi Airport Terminal 1) by Airbus A320-200

Jetstar Asia 3K284 is the only afternoon flight departing from Medan back to Singapore. For my Sunday flight, it departed at 4.20pm – which was a pretty tight connection from my other train rides – but everything went smooth, so, here I am.

Jetstar does not offer their online check-in service at Medan, so I had to queue at the check-in counter the traditional way.

My boarding pass for my flight back to Singapore.

Once done with check-in, cross over to the other island to enter the departure area.

At the security screening before entering the departure area, you need to scan your boarding pass at the gates to enter. However, as the print on my boarding pass was rather weak, I was unable to scan it. Nevertheless, the security people allowed me to enter through a side gate.

Once done with the security screening, head down to the departure area. This initial section is for domestic flights.

For international flights, head left towards Gates 1 to 4.

Go through security screening again (!!!) and thereafter clear immigration to enter the international departure area.

The departure area for international flights.

Jetstar Asia flight 3K283 touching down at Kuala Namu International Airport, which will form my 3K284 flight back to Singapore.

However, the plane proceeded to park at Gate 1 instead, so it was a mass of people changing gates from the initial Gate 3 to Gate 1.

The new departure gate for 3K284.

Once passed through Gate 1, a left turn is required to get to Gate A where the plane is actually parked. Seems that the gate numbers are just to process passengers while the actual plane is parked on an alphabetical gate.

Heading down the aerobridge to the plane.

Seems like there’s about an extra inch of legroom on Jetstar with the absence of the seat pocket.

The seat pocket is instead on top of the seat in front at eye-level.

The view of the plane from my seat.

I had the whole row to myself on this flight, which was pretty lucky since it wasn’t exactly the emptiest flight I’ve taken in my life. Here’s the legroom available.

Taxiing away from the terminal building.

Bye Medan.

Looking back at Kuala Namu International Airport.

The flight offered a pretty good view of the sea and ground below thanks to the lack of clouds.

The overall look of the washroom on board. Real paper towels were provided – a plus point from me.

Approaching Changi Airport from the south from Batam Island.

Flying past the Port of Sekupang.

Crossing the Singapore Strait.

Landed at Changi Airport on time.

Approaching the “home” of Jetstar and Qantas at Terminal 1.

Disembarking from the plane.

Overall, Jetstar was a fuss-free and uneventful way to get from Medan to Singapore since I just needed a mode of transport to get home without any expectations set. As with all other budget airlines, I’ll usually choose whichever has the best fare and flight timing combination.

ARS Kualanamu: Medan City Railway Station to Medan Kuala Namu International Airport by Airport Rail Link

Connecting from my KA43 Sribilah Pagi from Rantau Prapat, I headed up to the Medan City Railink Station directly from Platform 1 of Medan Railway Station.

With my KA43 Sribilah Pagi arriving at 1.15pm, I had just 15 minutes to get my connection to the U24 Railink to Kuala Namu International Airport.

The Medan City Railink Station departure area is just upstairs of Platform 1 of Medan Railway Station.

I got my ticket directly from the ticket counter, paying in cash. Tickets at the Go Show counter cost Rp. 100,000.

Crossing over the linkbridge to the Railink platforms.

Once at the fare gate, insert the white card into the fare gate and you are on your way.

Heading down to the Railink platform.

Boarding the Railink to Kuala Namu International Airport.

The interior of the Railink.

My receipt for this train journey. Despite there being a seat number printed on the receipt, it seems like everyone was just taking an available seat since the train isn’t sold out.

Looking back at the Sribilah Pagi which I just alighted from.

Departing from Medan City Railink Station.

Passing by the last buffer stops of Medan Railway Station.

Goodbye Medan traffic.

Hmm, looks familiar.

The view of the Railink train from my seat.

Taking a left curve while exiting from Medan City.

Running parallel to the future elevated railway.

The typical scenery for the journey to Kuala Namu International Airport.

Taking a nice right curve at Deli Serdang just before Araskabu station.

Arrived at Araskabu station to cross with the Medan-bound Railink.

Crossing with the Medan-bound Railink at Araskabu.

Splitting off the mainline after Araskabu to head for Kuala Namu International Airport.

Passing under Jalan Bandara Kuala Namu.

Entering the Kuala Namu International Airport compounds.

Approaching Kualanamu Airport Railink Station.

Crossing over to Platform 3.

Entering Kualanamu Airport Railink Station.

The station master’s office is located at the end of the platform.

An empty stretch of platform follows, reserved for potential future extensions.

Arriving at Kualanamu Airport Railway Station.

Disembarking at Platform 3 from the Railink.

From the arrival platforms, there is a dedicated travellator linkway to lead you on the path to the departures level.

Ascending up to the departures level of the Airport Railway Station.

Most if not all of the shop lots were closed at this level.

Once done walking through this level, a linkbridge is up ahead to cross over the driveway and ascend up to the departure hall of the terminal building.

Crossing over the arrival driveway.

The second and last set of travellators to get to the departure hall.

Once up here, it’s the usual security screening just like all other Indonesian airports before entering the check-in area for my flight back to Singapore.

KA Sribilah Pagi: Rantau Prapat to Medan by Train

The U43 KA Sribilah Pagi is a day train service running from Rantau Prapat to Medan departing Rantau Prapat daily at 7.20am and arriving in Medan at 1.15pm. It is also the only northbound train service which offers a full-daylight journey, with the other 3 trains crossing into sunset or running in nighttime.

Rantau Prapat is the southernmost station in Divre I.

The buffer at the end of the track past the station marks the end of the railway. Hopefully, this will one day be removed for the “planned” Trans-Sumatra railway line.

The gates separating the station compound to the end of the line.

I did my check-in at Rantau Prapat just before boarding the train.

This time, I tried scanning the code directly from my phone against the reader at the check-in counter.

It worked.

Out comes my boarding pass.

My boarding pass for the trip back to Medan. I purchased a lower fare class Eksekutif ticket with a seat by the door to the gangway for this trip at Rp. 135,000, which was a Rp. 15,000 top-up from the single-fare-class Bisnis sold.

Getting my ticket checked before entering the platform.

A Roti’O outlet is available at the platform if you’d like some bread for the journey.

My Sribilah Eksekutif Coach 1, located just after the Kereta Makan Pembangkit 2. Despite holding a ticket with a similar coach number as my onward trip, the coaches on the train gets renumbered with the smaller number towards the front of the train. As such, the train’s coach numbers in formation are Bisnis 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, and Eksekutif 1, 2, and 3.

Luckily, this coach has a similar wide headrest as my onward trip, and not the older slimmer version.

As this particular Eksekutif coach seats 52 passengers – 2 more than usual – due to the non-existent single seat at the end of the cabin by the borders with it being replaced by a pair seat, and with the pair seat being labelled as a single seat instead, both on the online system and inside the train, I had these two seats to myself.

My buy-one-get-one-free 1C seat.

Unfortunately, almost all windows on this train are tinted, which doesn’t make for very nice photos.

On the other side though, the window isn’t tinted but it’s permanently misted up, possibly due to the air leaking into the vacuum between the window panels, so I’d take the tint over this.

The legroom available on Eksekutif class.

The interior over at Bisnis class.

As these are older coaches, only squat toilets are available on the train.

And since there isn’t much photos to take from the train thanks to the tinted windows, most following pictures are shot from the door when the train has stopped at the station.

Marbau Railway Station

Crossing with an oil tanker train at Padang Halaban Railway Station.

Padang Halaban Railway Station

Membang Muda Railway Station

Shortly after, food and drinks service commenced.

Only basic meals of Nasi Goreng or Crispy Chicken with Rice were available, with the usual selection of drinks.

My Nasi Goreng Ayam (with the chicken bits somewhere inside the rice) for Rp. 25,000 and Teh Botol for Rp. 6,000.

Aek Loba Railway Station

Pulu Raja Railway Station

Kisaran Railway Station

The train made a slightly longer stop on schedule at Kisaran station, probably for it to catch up on the timetable in case a few minutes were lost, but also probably because Kisaran is a bigger station and is the junction to Tanjung Balai, and they may expect more passengers.

Perlanaan Railway Station

A CC201 stabling at Perlanaan.

Departing Perlanaan.

Approaching the junction to Siantar at Tebing Tinggi.

Tebing Tinggi Railway Station

A roundhouse for steam locomotives behind Tebing Tinggi Railway Station.

Departing from Tebing Tinggi.

Lubuk Pakam Railway Station

Lubuk Pakam is where you should stop to change to a taxi to get to Kuala Namu International Airport if you’re coming from the south as while it isn’t the closest station geographically, it is more populated than Araskabu, the road alignment gets you to the airport faster and there are actually taxis, Grabs or Go-Cars around.

However, I opted to be the typical me and continued on back to Medan to get the Railink to the airport.

Departing Lubuk Pakam.

Araskabu Railway Station

Taking a left curve after Araskabu.

Crossing with KA54 Putri Deli Sore at Batangkuis, headed by a BB203.

Despite it being classified as BB under the Bo-Bo bogie arrangement PT KAI locomotives, the BB203 has the look of a “Co-Co” bogie but has actually an idle axle in the middle, which actually makes it an A1A-A1A bogie arrangement instead.

Batangkuis Railway Station

Bandar Kalipah Railway Station

Crossing with a Railink to Kuala Namu International Airport at Bandar Kalipah Railway Station.

The future elevated railway in Medan taking flight on the left of the existing railway.

The face of the CC201 from the coach when its operating with the long hood forward.

Arriving at Medan.

The CC 201 04 04 back at Medan, after taking me safely to Rantau Prapat and back.

As the Sribilah Pagi’s length of 11 coaches excluding the baggage car and locomotive exceeded the platform, I got down by the coach’s steps onto the side of the tracks and walked back to the station. Definitely faster than walking through the coaches to the platform.

Once here, I used the escalator link up to the Medan City Railink Station to connect to the departing Railink to the airport to catch my flight back home.

Overall, despite being a fully-single track railway, both the previous Sribilah Malam and this Sribilah Pagi were spot on time according to the timetable, with crossings at designated station taking place like clockwork. While it may not be as good comfort-wise as compared to the trains on Java, the same standards definitely apply on Sumatra as well, which makes PT KAI a very reliable mode of transport in Indonesia.

KA Sribilah Malam: Medan to Rantau Prapat by Night Train

The U50 KA Sribilah Malam is an overnight train service plying between Medan and Rantau Prapat, with the least stations called at among all Sribilah train services. The southbound KA Sribilah Malam departs Medan daily at 10.30pm, arriving in Rantau Prapat at 3.49am.

For this short weekend trip, I opted to spend most of my time on trains, so this overnight service offered a time-effective way to ride the almost-full length of the railway in Divre I.

Even though this railway is on Sumatra, the same check-in procedure for long-distance trains applies.

Key in your 6 digit PNR code found on your itinerary on the keyboard provided.

Click on “Print” to check-in.

The boarding pass pops out from a little slot beside the keyboard. Remember not to block it.

My boarding pass for the train ride to Rantau Prapat, and my “hotel” for the night.

Once done, head to the ticket checking counter for the staff to check your boarding pass and allow you to the platform area.

For me, I prefer to check-in just before ticket checking as I only need to immediately get it checked and I can keep it in my bag straightaway.

Getting my boarding pass checked and scanned at the ticket checking counter.

My Sribilah Malam was to depart from Platform 3. You could take the underpass if you want…

But I’d rather just cross the tracks at the designated crossing at the end of the platform.

My Sribilah Eksekutif Coach 1, located right in front of the rake just behind the yet-to-be-attached locomotive.

The interior of my Sribilah Eksekutif Coach 1.

The seat isn’t as impressive as the ones on Java, but still comfortable nonetheless with excellent legroom. I’ve always preferred faux leather seats over fabric ones anyway.

Being a night train, the usual pillow and blanket set are provided for each passenger on Eksekutif.

The generous legroom on the Eksekutif coach.

A slight difference from the Eksekutif coaches on Java, this particular Eksekutif coach seats 52 passengers – 2 more than usual. This is due to the non-existent single seat at the end of the cabin by the borders, with it being replaced by a pair seat. However, tickets are not sold for these 2 extra seats, with the pair seat being labelled as a single seat instead, both on the online system and inside the train.

The interior of Sribilah Eksekutif Coach 2.

The seats on the Sribilah Eksekutif Coach 2 are a bit older with a slimmer headrest. Glad I’m not on this coach for the night.

The route map of the KA Sribilah.

Attached to this train for hotel power is the KMP2 or Kereta Makan Pembangkit 2.

Here’s the Makan part of things with a room for catering staff and a single table with a single seat by the gangway.

Here is the Pembangkit part of things to generate hotel power for the train. Note that while it is really noisy and warm in here, the floor is rather clean with no oil patches around – a vast difference from a certain other company around the region.

And here’s the 2 or Bisnis Class part of things. However, tickets on this coach are not sold. The main function of this coach is just for the Reska caterer and the power generator. This being said, this Bisnis Class area seems to have additional tables to function as the dining area, hmm.

The interior of Bisnis Class.

The pillow and blanket set is not provided for Bisnis passengers. At a fare of Rp. 120,000 for Bisnis and Rp. 150,000 for Eksekutif, I think the small top-up is wise for the night train journey.

Attaching the locomotive to my rake.

My Sribilah Malam train is now ready to depart for Rantau Prapat.

The locomotive sounded the horn at exactly the same time when the time on my phone changed to 22.30. It was to be a precise on-time departure, something that I’m pretty familiar with with PT KAI.




It was a rather uneventful train journey as I spent my time sleeping and charging my phone. Guess it helped that there was nobody in the seat beside me, so it was a comfortable night on board the train.

The Sribilah Malam arrived at Rantau Prapat at 3.49am sharp.

Most passengers disembarked with their family members or friends already waiting for them outside the station. There were also a bunch of waiting becaks and surprisingly a bus as well, but not too sure where it was bound for.

However, I opted to spend my time waiting at the platform since the departure hall wasn’t open yet and I had to catch the train back to Medan later on anyway. No sightseeing to be done at 4 in the morning.

The train gets pushed back up the platform allow the locomotive to take the escape route to bring the baggage car over to the now-end of the rake.

The exit path from the platform out of the station.

Overall, the KA Sribilah Malam is a time-effective train journey to get between Medan and Rantau Prapat. Comfort-wise, it isn’t as good as the new K10 bogie Eksekutif coaches on Java, but still reasonably comfortable nonetheless. But with me riding the train only to return back to Medan a couple of hours later, Rantau Prapat as a destination didn’t really matter to me.