The Sri Lelawangsa is a series of commuter trains linking the towns of Medan and Binjai every 90 minutes or so. While a dedicated DMU or KRD set used to serve this line, the two sets have been out of service for quite some time. As such, services are now formed of idling rakes of long-distance Sri Bilah and Putri Deli trains. As the Sri Bilah does not operate with Ekonomi coaches, there is a potential for a “free upgrade” to Bisnis class on this low-fare commuter train, making it accidentally the highest-class of travel on a commuter train for a bargain low fare.
I went to calculate the rakes based on my previous experience seeing the Bisnis class Sri Lelawangsa pulling into Medan, and opted to get on the U70 departing from Medan at 11.00am, hoping to get the Bisnis class to Binjai.
The timetable of the KA Sri Lelawangsa.
Purchasing my ticket from Counter 1, the dedicated Sri Lelawangsa counter.
My ticket for the KA Sri Lelawangsa U70 from Medan to Binjai.
Getting my ticket checked in at the ticket checking counter before entering the platform area.
The KA Sri Lelawangsa usually departs from Platform 1, but listen out for announcements as this may change. If in doubt, follow the mad rush across to Platform 2 or 3 when a last-minute platform change announcement is made.
The incoming Sri Lelawangsa U67 from Binjai.
Guess my prediction was right.
Passengers from Binjai disembarking from the Bisnis class commuter train.
The name plate of the KA Sri Bilah displayed for the KA Sri Lelawangsa service to Binjai and back.
However, the coach numbers are removed from the rake.
The interior of the Bisnis class coaches on the Sri Lelawangsa.
Seats can be flipped according to the direction of travel, but not many passengers knew that (till I started taking photos of the flip).
As this was a weekend lunchtime trip to Binjai, the train ran comfortably full.
The incoming BB303 preparing to couple to the rake to head to Binjai again.
The highest-class commuter train in Indonesia, KA Sri Lelawangsa U70 at Medan, formed of full Bisnis class coaches.
The locomotive number plate of BB 303 84 02.
The manufacturing plate of BB 303 84 02.
The very generous legroom of Bisnis class, easily twice that of the facing Ekonomi class bays of seats.
Ample multi-split air-conditioning units are also installed.
Some people before me had a McCafe feast from Binjai to Medan.
The reasonable legroom with both Bisnis seats facing each other, slightly more space than Ekonomi.
The generous legroom once the seats are all facing the correct direction.
Power sockets are available as per normal Bisnis class.
Departing from Medan Railway Station.
Hmm, the KRDI Sri Lelawangsa set seems to be missing from the depot. This is worrying.
Splitting off the line to Belawan.
Passing by a golf driving range.
From here, the railway line travels all the way straight on an almost precise east-west alignment towards Binjai, past houses built right beside the railway line.
Some unfortunate unequal development here.
Crossing a bridge over a river.
The scenery gives way to plantations nearing Binjai.
Arriving into Binjai after about half an hour.
Some MOW vehicles parked at Binjai.
Disembarking from the very comfortable 64-seater Bisnis class commuter train.
The KA Sri Lelawangsa Bisnis class at Binjai.
As this is a locomotive-hauled train, the locomotive will have to proceed ahead to change to the loop line to round around the rake to form the train back to Medan.
The BB303 heading off to the “headshunt”, which will hopefully soon form the reinstated line to Pangkalan Brandan as part of the Trans-Sumatra railway project.
Heading to the exit on the eastern side of the station.
Exiting Binjai Railway Station.
The very Dutch colonial style architecture of Binjai Railway Station.
From here, I bought my ticket back to Medan to ride the Bisnis class commuter train once more.
Overall, an excellent ride on the unintentional upgrade of the KA Sri Lelawangsa on Bisnis class. At a regular PSO commuter fare of just Rp.5,000 (~S$0.48), this would make it the cheapest Bisnis class ticket in the whole of Indonesia, and possibly also the cheapest ticket ever based on the class and distance formula.