ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn from Butterworth to KL Sentral by ETS2 Business Class Train
Heading back to Kuala Lumpur, I chose ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn for the timing and to ride in Business Class after the initial hype to try out what the real offering is now. This would also be my last long-haul train ride of Revenge Travel Semenanjung, so the joyrides would end with a bang. And indeed, I got the full experience on this trip with a major delay in conjunction with the December 2021 Central Malaysian Floods.
The path from Penang Sentral to Butterworth Railway Station is still on the temporary route.
Head behind the bus ticketing counter.
Take the elevator down to Level 1.
Cross the road to the temporary walkway, following the KTM logos.
How long more, Penang Sentral?
The façade of Butterworth Railway Station. Scan MySejahtera and take your temperature to enter the station.
Crossing the overhead bridge to the station concourse.
Butterworth Railway Station has the new KTMB Integrated Ticketing System (KITS) kiosks and gates installed which is used for both ETS and KTM Komuter Northern Sector trains.
Passengers are allowed to enter the KITS gates at any time, since the scanning is digital and tickets are not manually checked here. However, note that the KITS ticket QR code is valid for 1 scan only, so once you enter, you cannot exit any more, or else your ticket will be invalid.
The stairs down the platforms are blocked off with queue poles before departure.
24 minutes before departure, the queue poles were opened for boarding.
Despite being a major terminal, the modern design of Butterworth Railway Station doesn’t really take into account the functionality with no escalators installed throughout.
A stewardess checks for Business Class tickets in front of Coach A.
Boarding my ETS Business Class Coach A from the front door.
The ETS Business Class coach at Coach A is laid out in a 1+2 configuration facing south. All seats can be rotated forwards or backwards.
The welcome mat for ETS Business Class is flushed with the carpet throughout the coach.
A luggage rack is available by the front door.
There is also a crew seat by the front door, but this was used as a storage space throughout the journey.
I booked my ETS Business Class seat at Seat 7A, in the middle of the coach with a good personal full-length window.
Each ETS Business Class seat has a 3-pin and 2 USB power sockets. For window seats, this is mounted on the wall.
On double seats, the 3-pin and 2 USB power sockets are in front, in the middle of the front 2 seats.
The legroom available on board the ETS Business Class.
A reading lamp is provided above the ETS Business Class seats.
What I thought was a ticket holder in China standards is now used to stuff the plastic bag for rubbish.
A tray table is provided in the armrest.
A safety card is available in the seat pocket in front of each seat except for the front-most row, whichever direction the seats are facing.
A personal TV screen is also available in the other armrest.
Unfortunately, there were no movies or music in them, with the only video clip being a 5-second slide saying “OUT OF ORDER”.
The only video available.
The food and beverage ordering system is also down, with every item listed as “SOLD OUT”.
I then tried accessing the internet on the browser.
Nope, the internet doesn’t work either.
Guess what I submitted my feedback as.
But after pressing every tab on this thing, I don’t even know if this feedback form works and if my opinion had been recorded.
A nice-looking product but void of actual function.
Passing by the Prai River Bridge on the Butterworth Outer Ring Road.
Crossing the Prai Swing Bridge.
Passing by Multi Modal Freight Services, Prai (New Yard).
Tickets are checked after departure by the stewardess.
Passing by Mydin Bukit Mertajam.
19 Class Shunter 19106 is at Bukit Tengah Depot.
A 93/2 Class ETS at the train wash of Bukit Tengah Depot.
Passing through Bukit Tengah Railway Station.
Passing by the closed down Perda City Mall.
More passengers boarded at Bukit Mertajam Railway Station.
When the train restarted, the details reflected the train route accurately, instead of originating from Bukit Mertajam Railway Station.
Yeah, I don’t think signal clearance is the cause of the train shut down.
Also, time to update your advertisement, KTM Berhad. I’m already on board.
The ETS stewardess proceeded to arrange the welcome drink service for ETS Business Class passengers.
Passing by the Bukit Mertajam Wye towards Padang Besar.
Approaching the Bukit Mertajam bypass from Padang Besar.
The welcome drink service consisted of a choice of coffee and tea, and a serving of Fried Bee Hoon as a snack.
Well, that’s more than a drink that I was expecting.
The Fried Bee Hoon is from the normal menu on board the ETS Café. Sugar and creamer is provided for my hot coffee.
Passing by paddy fields of northern Malaysia.
Approaching Bukit Merah Lake.
Passing by the former causeway over Bukit Merah Lake on the old single track alignment.
Can’t visit Lake Baikal now, so Bukit Merah Lake would have to do.
Some Japanese feels here, with a view of an AEON away from the main town while passing by it at speed on a train.
More passengers boarded at Taiping Railway Station.
The old Taiping Railway Station still stands, functioning as a food court.
Departing from Taiping Railway Station.
Approaching the Bukit Berapit Tunnel.
Passing through the Bukit Berapit Tunnel. At 3.3km long, it is currently the longest rail tunnel in Malaysia, until the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) takes over with the Genting Tunnel in future.
Exiting the Bukit Berapit Tunnel.
Making a brief stop at Kuala Kangsar Railway Station.
I decided to stretch my legs before the next stop at Ipoh.
The toilet nearest to the ETS Business Class coach at Coach A is just across the gangway at Coach B.
The interior of the toilet at Coach B.
My ETS Business Class coach was about half full throughout the journey.
Another welcome mat for the ETS Business Class is placed on this end too, also flushed with the carpet throughout the coach.
Heading on to Ipoh at maximum operational speed.
Surprisingly, some more passengers were waiting at Ipoh Railway Station for this short-distance sector towards KL Sentral, and short-distance tickets do not open for sale until 24 hours before departure.
With some extra minutes to spare, I hopped outside for a quick photo of ETS 215.
Whoops. I guess this bird wasn’t flying at 140km/h to avoid the ETS train.
And this is bad omen number 2 following the earlier shut down at Bukit Mertajam.
At 5.37pm, just before my arrival at Ipoh (but I only saw the Facebook post after departure since I was snapping photos), KTM Berhad posted an update that there is a major delay due to power supply problems and fallen trees that have blocked the line between Sungai Buloh and Kepong. Repair works would also take a long time due to heavy rain.
Guess who is approaching the line between Sungai Buloh and Kepong soon.
Maybe a loco-hauled train would help in this situation.
Making a brief stop at Batu Gajah Railway Station.
Passing by the turnout to Batu Gajah Main Workshop.
The Tren Aral Batu Gajah was parked at the depot.
Passing by some 29 Class locomotives.
Most of the 91 Class ETS fleet is resting in Batu Gajah depot.
Some rusting rolling stock remains at Batu Gajah depot, for many years now.
Arriving at Kampar Railway Station with the dilapidated old station outside.
Making a brief stop at Arriving at Kampar Railway Station. This is the last station served by ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn before heading directly to the 2 Kuala Lumpur stations. At least in normal times.
After departure from Kampar, dinner was served.
Dinner was a Nasi Lemak from the ETS Café, and a bottle of mineral water for the drink. There is no more specially-catered Business Class main meal like the launching period.
During dinner, the rain started to appear as the ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn train headed closer to the Klang Valley.
On this long non-stop sector, the ETS Platinum 9107dn Standard Class ran mostly full.
Following dinner, dessert was served.
The dessert course was a soft cinnamon roll, a chocolate muffin, and a box of Delite Blackcurrant & Mixed Berries Drink.
Major Delay on Kepong-Sungai Buloh Sector due to Fallen Trees and Power Supply Issues
Passing by Kuang Railway Station on the main down line at 7.38pm, my ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn slowed down to a stop after the platform, just as I had predicted when I first saw the major delay Facebook post at around 5.45pm.
At this point, there was still no update from KTM Berhad about the status of stuck trains. A manual announcement was made to passengers shortly after, but no further information was provided, especially about the estimated time of delay.
I considered asking the train crew if I could alight here, and then I’ll go get a Grab on my own to KL, but when searching for a ride on Grab, no vehicles were nearby. Oh well. Might as well just stay on.
By this time, the trees on the line had been cleared, and a single track can be open to move trains across it. However, there was still no power from the catenary.
Following behind was a KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector Tanjung Malim – Sungai Buloh
Shuttle Train which was stuck together. That train arrived at Platform 1 before departing back to Tanjung Malim Railway Station with a full load of delayed passengers.
Thankfully, it was not a total shut down of the train as briefed. Half of the lights were still on, with electricity from the on-board battery. The air-conditioning was off, but that was fine since it had been blasting for the past couple of hours.
Finally, it was time for the final stop of ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn.
My ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn arrived at KL Sentral at 11.26pm – 3 hours and 16 minutes delayed from the scheduled arrival at 8.10pm. The total journey time on this ETS trip from Butterworth to KL Sentral took 7 hours and 26 minutes, about half of which was just sitting at Kuang waiting for things to happen.
The ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn ETS 215 travelled from Kepong to KL Sentral at with the coupler cover opened. And thankfully it did, otherwise there would be more minutes added to the travel time.
Heading up the escalator to the exit.
A side gate was opened for passengers to exit directly without further scanning tickets at the KITS gates.
From here, it was a marathon 3 hours to catch some last train connections with interchange closures, and a final Grab (thankfully) to check in to my hotel for the night while I was stranded in flooded roads around me.
The ETS Business Class provisions were reduced from the launch period in October 2019, but it was what I was expecting anyway. The entire TV screen had no function other than to switch it on and off, the meals were generic from the ETS Cafe, and no further frills or souvenirs were provided other than the bigger seat.
Managing the fallen tree crisis, however, had much to improve on.
At the end of the day, KTM Berhad only updated the status for 4 ETS trains. My 9107dn was not part of the update, or any KTM Komuter trains serving Sungai Buloh, giving the illusion that everything was fine on board 9107dn, and my train and many other trains in the train traffic jam around me were not affected.
The general update the next morning following the crisis simply said that everything is as per normal.
While I understand that a fallen tree is an act of God, there was one simple opportunity that could have provided as a alternative for on-board passengers.
Open the Doors
While the ETS Platinum Business Class 9107dn was stuck along the line at Kuang and Sungai Buloh stations, KTM Berhad should have instructed the train crew to offer passengers a choice if they had wanted to disembark there and then. Other stranded trains could also offer to open the doors at stations where they are stranded at.
Sure, the train would have been on the main line away from the platform, but there was no movement anyway, and station porters could be in high-visibility vests to guard passengers who are crossing the loop line to the platform.
Passengers will then arrange for their own onward journey by themselves. From Sungai Buloh, passengers could also catch the MRT Kajang Line Free Shuttle Bus Service from Sungai Buloh to change to the MRT Kajang Line at Kwasa Sentral to proceed on to KL this way.
Opening the doors would also allow for fresh air to enter the stranded trains, especially in this COVID era.