Shuttle Tebrau 91dn: Johor Bahru Sentral to Woodlands CIQ by Train

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The Shuttle Tebrau 91dn is the second-most popular evening train departing at 8.15pm from JB Sentral to Woodlands CIQ, usually being the second train to sell out among all Shuttle Tebrau trains in a day due to its convenient timing for those who wish to have their their dinner in Malaysia before heading back to Singapore. This time, however, due to the COVID-19 situation in the region, the whole cross-border situation and passenger load was quite different as compared with regular Saturdays.

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The departure screen at Gate A of JB Sentral.

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Despite having just opened, there are nobody queuing up for the passport gates any more.

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Heading to Gate A to board early since there’s no queue to jostle with.

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The empty passport gates barely 5 minutes after the Shuttle Tebrau 91dn gate had opened.

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Scanning my passport successfully for this Shuttle Tebrau 91dn trip.

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Heading down for Malaysia immigration.

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The waiting room with so much standing space.

There was a bit of a delay to the Shuttle Tebrau 91dn as the Ekspres Selatan 43dn entered first at 8.02pm on time, resulting in the Shuttle Tebrau 90up being unable to depart from Woodlands CIQ on time until the signal and points have been set after the Ekspres Selatan 43dn had completed arrival procedures. The Shuttle Tebrau 90up only arrived at 8.10pm, 5 minutes delayed from schedule.

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The gates of the waiting room for the Shuttle Tebrau 91dn only opened at 8.16pm – 1 minute after the scheduled departure time.

Hence the need for a split signalling system for the Shuttle Tebrau as described here to prevent all this rush.

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Heading down the steps to the Shuttle Tebrau 91dn at Platform 4.

I had wanted to go to the front of the train to take a photo but was whistled into the train as the train was departing immediately, just like a mad rushed delayed ETS departure from Butterworth when everyone is herded into the first door so that the train can depart with passengers still finding their seat.

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The empty ASC (Hyundai-Padu Sedia) as everyone (half the train capacity of 320 passengers) were at the back of the train closer to immigration. The COVID-19 situation has certainly thinned the demand for cross-border travel.

That being said, if you are holding on to Shuttle Tebrau tickets but do not plan to use them, please do all of us a favour and cancel your ticket if you do pass by JB Sentral or Woodlands CIQ railway stations to allow others to use the Shuttle Tebrau train service.

It’s frustrating to realise trains are now travelling half empty when tickets are still fully sold out for the entire afternoon and evening back to Woodlands on a Saturday, with people still wanting to buy a Shuttle Tebrau train ticket anyway but can’t do so because seats are still blocked by those holding on to valid tickets but did not make the trip.

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The Shuttle Tebrau 91dn departed from JB Sentral at 8.19pm – 4 minutes delayed from schedule even after the mad boarding rush.

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Cleared out of JB Sentral.

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Crossing the empty Johor–Singapore Causeway.

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Crossing the Malaysia-Singapore border.

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The awkwardly-empty Johor–Singapore Causeway on a Saturday. Maybe I should have just taken the bus instead.

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Heading into Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

The Shuttle Tebrau 91dn arrived at Woodlands Train Checkpoint at 8.23pm – 3 minutes delayed from schedule even after the mad boarding rush.

Despite being one of the last to enter the immigration hall since I was at the front coach of the train, there were less than 10 people in front of me in my immigration queue, rather than 320 people in the immigration hall if this were a full train.

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Overall, a rushed delayed journey on the Shuttle Tebrau 91dn due to the late arrival of the Shuttle Tebrau 90up due to allowing the scheduled on-time Ekspres Selatan 43dn to arrive first. This is what happens when train timetables are created in theory by an off-site department who doesn’t know what goes on in each station.

Click here to read how I think this wait-to-rush situation can be avoided with a few simple changes to the Shuttle Tebrau line.

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