Ekspres Selatan 40up 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.

KTM Train Ticket Booking Methods

Tickets are open for sale 30 days before departure.

Hotel Booking

Attractions Booking

How do I book tickets online?

Links to the KTM E-Ticket System are strikethroughed due to KTM’s own admission of the instability of their system here after Prime Minister Najib Razak personally posted on Facebook that there is such an issue here. Proceed using the KTM E-Ticket System at your own risk.


  1. Last December I took this train and 9202 to KL. The last time I took KTM’s long-distance train was more than 12 years ago during the heydays of Ekspres Rakyat and the Senandung Malam. What I generally felt about train 40 is that much has changed: shorter train (only 3 carriages), no catering service (I remember once I bought Milo from ABC, and got myself splashed in hot Milo while crossing between carriages when the train went through a particularly bumpy track), no announcements. The time they factored in for buffer time also meant that the train arrived at every station early (the last time I took Ekspres Rakyat, well, it delayed for an hour).

    The good experiences I have onboard train 40 is that the train’s Guard (a young, spec-ed guy) is as friendly as the Guards used to be in the past. The other railway people I see around the line from JB to Gemas are also as friendly as they were in the past.

    The bad experience of that train was that there were a group of German-speaking tourists onboard (occupying about 60% of the carriage I’m in). Unfortunately they were talking loudly all the way from Gate B to Gemas, and I happened to be sitting next to one after I swapped seat with an elderly lady so that she could sit with her husband. The tourists were making bad remarks about the presence of so many “China people” on the train (in fact, the tourists were the only foreigners onboard the train apart from the few Singaporeans who were almost impossible to distinguish when they mingle among Malaysians). Avoiding the uncomfortable situation, I made my way to the rear where there is a disused Guard’s room and basically sat there all the way to Gemas. Good thing is I managed to know a few people while travelling at that guard’s cabin- the Guard himself, a fellow cleaner, and a few passengers who went there to smoke or have some brunch.

    To avoid missing my connection to 9202, I have bought Train 40’s ticket all the way to Pulau Sebang, and 9202’s ticket from Gemas to KL, giving me options to change either at Gemas, Batang Melaka or Tampin, depending on how late the train would be.

    Turned out the train was early, so I got down at Gemas. Having read from your travel experiences about the lack of food choices onboard ETS, I walked to Gemas town for lunch and had ample time to walk around the town before coming back to the station to wait for my 9202.

    One interesting thing is people began walking to the ticket inspector before the gates are scheduled to open. While the inspector initially told them to wait until a certain time, eventually there’s enough people walking to him wanting to enter that he simply let them pass (myself included). Good that he still took the effort to tell us to take the train “on the left” (Platform 4) before letting us pass.

    Generally the experience is pleasant (maybe its my below-average expectations with KTM), and I will certainly take KTM as my first choice of public transport to KL because I am more confident with KTM’s safety than with express buses (especially after the Muar accident). But then, I’ll just take a plane if its cheaper than KTM.

  2. After this no more cheapest way to JB Sentral from KL Sentral effective 1 February 2017. I previously planned to JB Sentral by end of April 2017 from Nilai,Negeri Sembilan by KTM Komuter to Pulau Sebang/Tampin and change the MTT/Malaysai Blue train to JB Sentral. So now, the plan need to postpone due to I need to pay more money for the ETS fares and ETS no more stop at Nilai I need to board on KL Sentral to try the feel onboard ETS.

    Not good for KTM change the schedule cause me need to postpone to save more money to buy ticket to go to JB Sentral.

    1. You can still get the KTM Komuter to Pulau Sebang/Tampin and change to the ETS for Gemas. RM16 on the ETS + RM21 on the Express Selatan to JB Sentral = RM37, an increase of RM12 from the present Pulau Sebang/Tampin to JB Sentral (RM25).

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