ETS Gold 9420up + KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2910up & 2963dn: KL Sentral to Butterworth via Padang Rengas and Bukit Mertajam by Train

For this Penang trip, I opted to get there by ETS train as I have not taken KTM for quite some time. However, KTM’s genius timetable does not offer any morning trains from KL Sentral to Butterworth. On top of that, the first direct train to Butterworth at 11.25am is an ETS Platinum service. Not wanting to pay a premium for it, I opted to make my own cheaper and earlier journey to Butterworth using an ETS Gold and KTM Komuter Northern Sector combination.

The official waiting area in front of Gate B for ETS passengers.

As there are very close departures at around 10am, be sure to hear out for your train number or destination being shouted before proceeding to the platform.

My ticket for the first leg from KL Sentral to Padang Rengas with ETS Gold 9420up. This trip costs RM45.

Heading to the platform once “Padang Besar Padang Besar!” is heard and a change of the train number on the TV is shown. Tickets are checked visually by staff at the gate to the escalator.

Heading down to the platforms.

The layout of the coach letters for Platform 2.

Despite the screens showing that 9420up was departing from Platform 1, the northbound platform…

… all the staff informed everyone that the train was at Platform 2, the southbound platform.

Something didn’t feel too right to me as the signals weren’t changing. I went off to Platform 1 meanwhile to wait as Platform 2 was getting rather hot and stuffy with the usual poor ventilation in KL Sentral.

And true enough, here comes my ETS Gold 9420up from Gemas, heading towards Padang Rengas and Padang Besar.

The destination on the LED signs for the ETS Gold 9420up.

Everyone did a cross-platform switch once the train arrived and with staff shouting “Padang Besar Padang Besar!”.

Boarding was done with urgency and lots of whistles by the staff as the train was running slightly late.

The legroom available on board the ETS 93 Class train sets.

I thought I forgot how to recline the seat because I haven’t took KTM for such a long time and couldn’t figure out the recline lever, but it turns out that it was broken and my seat thus could not recline. Thank you KTM, excellent maintenance right there. With a broken seat, taking a KTM Komuter SCS would be more comfortable as there is a lot more legroom for me to slouch.

Approaching the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.

Splitting away from the line to Batu Caves.

Tickets were checked manually by the TC and destination written on the usual slip of paper. I mentioned about my broken seat and he suggested that I change to a row in front as the passengers in that row has in turn changed their seat to another coach.

The view from my new reclinable seat.

The interior of the rather full train.

The route map of the ETS Gold 9420up with plenty of stops.

The typical toilet on board the ETS 93 Class.

A mop and bucket is stored in front of the sink.

A cleaning rag is also hung on the coat hook behind the door.

I headed to the Bistro at Coach C to grab my lunch.

Some selection of food on display at the counter.

The updated ETS Bistro menu.

I ordered the Nasi Lemak Pak Roslan combo for RM9 which comes with a hot drink.

The Nasi Lemak Pak Roslan and instant Teh Tarik.

Unfortunately, the Nasi Lemak didn’t taste as lemak I remembered it to be, and the egg was very dry and hard. The chicken and sambal tasted similar though. Nevertheless, it was still edible.

Making a brief stop at Ipoh.

Zooming past Tasek Railway Station. Tasek is the only passenger station on the electrified double track sector with no scheduled passenger services.

Making a brief stop at Sungai Siput.

Making a brief stop at Kuala Kangsar.

Taking a curve on approach to Padang Rengas.

Approaching Padang Rengas, which according to the information screen, is a familiar fruit.

The ETS Gold 9420up arrived at Padang Rengas on time. ETS Gold 9420up is the only northbound ETS train to serve Padang Rengas station.

The train continued on to Padang Besar.

Exiting from the platform via the overhead bridge to purchase my onward KTM Komuter Northern Sector ticket.

Heading down the stairs to the station concourse side.

The facade of Padang Rengas station, the terminus of the KTM Komuter Northern Sector Bukit Mertajam – Padang Rengas Line.

The next train to Bukit Mertajam is at 1.54pm, which makes for a comfortable 27 minute connection.

Purchasing my KTM Komuter Northern Sector ticket from the ticket counter.

My KTM Komuter Northern Sector for the journey from Padang Rengas to Butterworth. Similar to the KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector, through tickets can be purchased between lines as it is within the same system. This trip costs RM8.70.

Passengers may wait at the concourse area.

About 15 minutes before the train departure, the gates are opened for boarding. Tickets are checked by the porter before entering the platform area.

Heading down to Platform 4 for KTM Komuter Northern Sector trains.

Platform 4 for KTM Komuter Northern Sector trains.

Trains on the KTM Komuter Northern Sector Bukit Mertajam – Padang Rengas Line run averagely at 2-hourly intervals.

A queue system has been painted on the platform for 3-car 83 Class trains.

The KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2909dn from Bukit Mertajam pulling into the station on time. This train will form my KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2910up to Bukit Mertajam.

EMU40 was on duty for my KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2910up ride from Padang Rengas to Bukit Mertajam.

The interior of EMU40, a typical 83 Class EMU on the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

The route map of the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

Departing from Padang Rengas.

Crossing over to the up line.

Entering the Bukit Berapit Tunnel.

Passing through the Bukit Berapit Tunnel.

Approaching Taiping Railway Station.

The preserved Old Taiping Station beside the current station.

Surprisingly, not many passengers boarded here as I expected.

Approaching Bukit Merah Lake.

Crossing over Bukit Merah Lake.

The old single-track track bed still stands across the lake.

The view out of the 83 Class windows.

Crossing with the opposing train at Simpang Ampat.

The Bukit Mertajam bypass line to Padang Besar splitting away from the main line to Butterworth.

The line from Padang Besar merging with the main line to Butterworth at the 0.00km mark for the Bukit Mertajam – Padang Besar sector.

Approaching Bukit Mertajam.

Arrived at Bukit Mertajam on time.

Surprisingly, not many passengers continued onwards to Butterworth. Most either alighted at Bukit Mertajam or crossed to the opposite platform for services towards Padang Besar. Maybe KTM is doing something right about terminating trains at Bukit Mertajam.

EMU40 resting at Bukit Mertajam to wait for the next trip to Padang Rengas.

To continue the journey to Butterworth, it’s a simple cross-platform transfer.

Bukit Mertajam Transfer Guide

Bukit Mertajam Transfer 02.png
Click on the image to enlarge.

At Bukit Mertajam, it’s just a 5-minute wait for the next Butterworth-bound train.

EMU28 was on duty for my KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2963dn ride from Bukit Mertajam to Butterworth, sporting a new front livery.

The simple cross-platform transfer at Bukit Mertajam.

The standing-only space on my KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2963dn ride from Bukit Mertajam to Butterworth.

Making a brief stop at Bukit Tengah.

Crossing over the Prai Swing Bridge.

Arrived at Butterworth where everyone alighted and passengers are waiting to board, showing the popularity of the KTM Komuter Northern Sector service.

After arrival, the train had just 9 minutes to turn around for the return trip to Padang Besar.

Heading up the stairs to exit the station.

The concourse of Butterworth Railway Station.

This split journey of ETS Gold 9420up and KTM Komuter Northern Sector 2910up & 2963dn costed just RM45 and RM8.70 respectively, making it a total cost of RM53.70 – 32% cheaper than the direct ETS Platinum train of a similar timing. However, the total travel time for this ETS Gold and KTM Komuter Northern Sector combination took 5 hours and 12 minutes, 57 minutes longer than the direct ETS Platinum journey of 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Still, I would prefer this ETS Gold and KTM Komuter Northern Sector combination as firstly, it’s cheaper, secondly, I get to stretch my legs at interchange stations and thirdly and most importantly, there’s more trains to ride on that just a boring direct route.

Would I do it again? If the timetable doesn’t change randomly again, probably.

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