Ekspres Rakyat: Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth by Train

The Ekspres Rakyat is no longer in operation.

There are no more direct train services between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur or northern destinations. You must change trains at JB Sentral and Gemas.

The Ekspres Rakyat is a daily service plying between Woodlands CIQ in Singapore and Butterworth via Kuala Lumpur. This post is about the northbound service from Woodlands CIQ, you can find the southbound service here.

The journey starts from the not-very-inspiring Woodlands Train Checkpoint in Singapore. Directions to the checkpoint can be found here. Do note that photography is not permitted anywhere within the checkpoint.

Upon departure from the platform, the train finds itself on a bend just before the Causeway already. No chance to take photos of the train with Singapore sceneries anymore.

Along the way, you may also get a chance to see the infamous Causeway jam. Remember to take the train!

First Class passengers get the usual mineral water and snack.

The train is formed of First Class and Second Class coaches. Attached is also a restaurant car, technically known as the Air-conditioned Buffet Coach. Food is cooked on board if you order from the A La Carte menu. Highly recommended.

Along the way, you get to see typical Malaysian sceneries when the train is not in the urbanised areas.

Being a single track railway between Woodlands CIQ and Gemas, the train has to stop to allow an opposing train to pass. If you find yourself reversing and moving forward, or staying at the station for an unusually long time, don’t worry. You’re most likely giving way to another train.

And there’s the morning train from KL Sentral, 13dn Ekspres Sinaran Selatan, to Woodlands CIQ.

The 2up Ekspres Rakyat at Gemas station.

After the departure from Gemas station, the train travels on electrified double tracks, minimising potential delays by other trains on the single track. The train itself is not electrified though, hopefully electric train services will commence soon.

If you haven’t already packed your food for the journey, fret not! The buffet coach on board provides you with simple but tasty meals on the move. You can have your meal in this coach too.

Here’s the Mee Goreng, or fried noodles, in a rather unique style with a sauce as compared to the normal mamak style. This dish is something else and is the most recommended if you ask me. RM6.50 + RM1.50 for the egg.

Nasi Goreng, or fried rice. Tastes great, however more options given the ingredients on board could be considered to give more variety. One extra point to the chef for shaping the fried rice on the plate. RM6.50 + RM1.50 for the egg.

The entire menu of the buffet coach.

The skyline of Kuala Lumpur after Salak Selatan station. A pity the clouds are blocking the view of the pinnacle of the KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers.

Entering KL Sentral station.

At KL Sentral, the crew changes and the buffet coach is restocked.You can walk around the slightly humid platforms here, the train stops for around 15 minutes by schedule.

The train also makes a stop at the old Kuala Lumpur station. You may choose to board from here too if you are heading to Butterworth.

And of course, the majestic Ipoh station. The Ekspres Rakyat is the only train which travels between Singapore and Butterworth directly.

The sunset after Ipoh.

Dinner calls for another trip to the buffet coach. The Bihun Goreng, or fried rice vermicelli, is moist as compared to most dry ones found elsewhere. The portion seems a little bigger than lunch, but that could be because the buffet coach is closing soon with the impending arrival at Butterworth of our train. RM6.50 + RM1.50 for the egg.

Instead of the sunny side up or telur mata as seen in the above pictures, you could also opt for the telur dadar or omelette. This comes with simple garnishes fried with the egg in the wok till crispy. RM3 for this oily but delicious goodness.

Hot and cold beverages are available on board too, check with the attendant for the day’s choices.

North of Ipoh, most station platforms look like this. Another boring design as compared to the older stations before they were replaced.

Finally arrived at Butterworth station.

The track layout of Butterworth station is almost the same prior to renovations, but the ticket counter and lobby is now moved to a new upper level.

The old seats from the old station are retained in the new lobby.

Click here for the timetable of trains plying between Singapore and Bangkok and transfer combinations.


  1. Do they still operate this ekspres rakyat? I wish they are still operating. The rates to travel is more cheaper than ets ���

  2. Just booked Ekspres Raykat from Johor Bahru to KL 08.40 train arrive KL 16.00hrs (Feb 26th). There is also one anoon train (ard. 17.00hrs) and evening/night train ard. 22.00hrs (with sleeper). I paid RM 33.- for Superior Class ticket

    1. I am having great difficulty to book the train tickets
      Ekspres Raykat from Johor Bahru to KL 08.40 train arrive KL 16.00hrs
      6 adults in April
      which website did you use ?

      1. On our trip JB to KL Feb 26, 08.40hrs, the train was half full so would not have been any problem to buy at the ticket counter at entrance of departure hall, just be there 30-40 mins before.
        Nice seats, have a car selling food – buy Malay dishes (Mie/Nasi-goreng), the western food (hotdog, burger and sandwich) are no good.

  3. I click on trains , enter the day ,
    when it searches it some how searches for bus instead trains and comes up no availBilty

  4. Hi, I’m thinking of taking the sleeper bus from JB central leaving at 22.30pm arriving at KL at 7am, and connecting the ETS to Butterworth at 9.15am/9.30am(there’re 2 timings). Do you think it’s a safe option? Just wondering because someone from other blogs mentioned that their train service got delayed for 2-3 hours, and I’m curious about your experience. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.