KA Siantar Ekspres U57: Siantar to Medan by Train

After a quick night’s stay at Siantar, it was time to head back to Medan by the Siantar Ekspres again. Yes, while frequent buses and shared taxis link the city almost throughout the day, I opted to get back by the once-daily Siantar Ekspres, because that’s the point of my trip isn’t it?

The station was still dark when I got there at about 5.50am, half an hour before the KA Siantar Ekspres U57 departure at 6.20am, as I still needed to check-in, unsure of how the procedure might be for this one-train-daily station.

Heading into Siantar Railway Station for this once-a-day train.

In case you haven’t had breakfast, some locals have set up stalls across the station to sell food and drinks. However, as I had prepared some bread and drinks from Indomaret the night before, I didn’t buy anything here.

The departure hall of this quaint station.

There is only one check-in kiosk at Siantar, but it was quite understandable since the station serves 1 train a day. A PT KAI staff is on hand to help you check-in in order to speed up the process a little bit.

Printing out my boarding pass from the check-in kiosk.

My boarding pass for the KA Siantar Ekspres U57 from Siantar to Medan.

The ticket counter is open, however, don’t expect Go Show tickets to be available since booking for this 3-coach train opens a month before departure. It’s either for pre-booking or for Go Show trips to Tebing Tinggi only, where everyone else would board later, making the Siantar Ekspres train full.

About 20 minutes before departure, boarding calls are made for ticket checking.

The small underused waiting area.

Queuing for ticket checking, with the staff at the counter rather surprised when he checked a Singapore passport.

The locomotive number plate of BB 203 78 03, the same locomotive which brought me to Siantar the previous day.

The KA Siantar Ekspres U57 ready for departure at Siantar Railway Station.

The train was shunted so that all 3 coaches of the Siantar Ekspres had at least a door within the station shelter.

The buffer stop of the Siantar godown.

The station sign of Siantar at the end of the station shelter.

The clean and bright platform of Siantar Railway Station.

The station sign of Siantar at the top of the platform entrance.

The train destination sign of the Siantar Ekspres.

The view of Siantar Railway Station from the western end of the platform.

Boarding Coach 3 where my seat is.

The empty interior of the Ekonomi class coach, with not many passengers from Siantar boarding.

Seats are arranged in a 2+3 formation with facing bays on the Ekonomi class coaches.

My seat at 11E, on the bay pair of seats.

Charging ports are available as usual, along with a rubbish bag.

The comfortable air-conditioning blowing right to my seat.

My (lack of) neighbours from Siantar.

Even as an Ekonomi PSO train, the usual customer service standard of PT KAI are maintained.

The route map of the Siantar Ekspres with the Putri Deli.

Departing from Siantar in the dark, but the sun soon rose.

Making a brief stop at Dolok Merangir where more passengers boarded the Siantar Ekspres.

Heading on to Baja Linggei with the sun shining through.

Making a brief stop at Baja Linggei.

The sunrise over Baja Linggei Railway Station.

Departing from Baja Linggei.

More birch trees.

Approaching the junction to the main line.

Merging with the main line south of Tebing Tinggi.

Passing by the Tebing Tinggi roundhouse while approaching the station.

The current office for locomotive crew.

The MOW part of the yard.

The Tebing Tinggi rescue wagon, known as the Gerbong Penolong.

Entering Tebing Tinggi Railway Station.

Making a brief stop at Tebing Tinggi Railway Station.

I didn’t manage to get off the train due to the huge crowd piling into the train.

As I made my way back to my seat, I found it taken already with my bread thrown on the floor by the passenger who stole the seat. When I picked up the bag and placed it on my now-aisle seat, she merely told me that she thought there was no one sitting there anymore.


Departing Tebing Tinggi.

Heading on to Bamban.

Making a brief stop at Bamban. While it’s a scheduled stop, no passengers boarded or alighted here.

The stop was probably scheduled in to cross with the Putri Deli U52 to Tanjung Balai instead.

Crossing with the Putri Deli U52 at Bamban.

The Putri Deli U52 zooms past Bamban.

Once done, the signal was quickly cleared for my Siantar Ekspres to depart.

Heading on to Lidah Tanah.

Making a brief stop at Lidah Tanah, overshooting the small platform as usual.

Crossing with the Sri Bilah U44 at Lidah Tanah.

The Sri Bilah (excluding Sri Bilah Premium) is the only train in Divre I which carries Eksekutif class coaches.

Once the crossing is done, it’s time to depart from Lidah Tanah.

The small Lidah Tanah station.

During the stop, many local hopped off the train to buy snacks from one of these stalls. Seems like a good deal.

Heading on to Lubuk Pakam.

Making a brief stop at Lubuk Pakam.

Heading on under Jl. Bandara Kuala Namu, the main road to Kuala Namu International Airport.

Approaching the railway junction to Kuala Namu International Airport.

The complicated Araskabu junction, ready for double-track operations.

Someone holding a wedding by the tracks.

Making a brief stop at Batang Kuis.

The station master giving the clearance for the Siantar Ekspres to depart.

Approaching Bandar Khalipah.

Making a brief stop at Bandar Khalipah.

Oh, a green signal for the wrong direction. It can only mean one thing.

And here comes the Railink peeking through.

As the station master came on board on the door in front of mine to clear the train through, I squatted down to prevent any conflicting signals.

The Railink U16 passing through Bandar Khalipah Railway Station.

The railway crossing opens for a short while to clear some traffic before my train is cleared to depart.

Departing from Bandar Khalipah through the busy railway crossing.

Approaching the junction to the elevated railway. Seems to be a single-track junction. Hmm.

The single track alignment towards the elevated railway, and travelling on the existing single track to the current Medan Railway Station.

The single tracks splits into a double track before ascending the viaducts. Hmm.

Travelling beside the elevated railway starting point.

Travelling beside the elevated railway viaduct.

Hopefully with the elevated railway, the railway crossings will be smoother since only regular trains would be using it then.

Entering Medan Railway Station.

Passing by a lone Premium coach.

The new destination sign for the Sri Bilah Premium.

Entering Medan Railway Station Platform 2.

The Sri Lelawangsa was taking up Platform 1.

Disembarking from the Siantar Ekspres.

The overall route map of Divre I as found in the Ekonomi class coach.

The route map of the Siantar Ekspres with the Putri Deli.

Disembarking from the Siantar Ekspres at Platform 2.

The locomotive, BB 203 78 03, running around after decoupling from the rake.

Heading down the underpass to cross over to Platform 1 where the main station building is.

The Siantar Ekspres rake as seen from Platform 1.

Heading off to the exit.

Waiting becaks are just outside, but I walked ahead to my next hotel in Medan.

From here, I crossed the pedestrian bridge across the tracks to my next hotel, Karibia Boutique Hotel.

Overall, a good trip with the once-a-day Siantar Ekspres, but it was a tough trip requiring at least a 2-night stay in Indonesia just to take this short trip to and fro. Nevertheless, I have now managed to check off all Divre I passenger lines to ride on, which in itself, is another achievement for me.

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