KTMB has released a new Intercity timetable which takes effect on 10 October 2015. Of particular highlight are new additional ETS services linking Gemas with Butterworth and Padang Besar:
GEMAS – PADANG BESAR vv via KL Sentral (but bypassing Butterworth) – the up service leaves Gemas at 1400hrs, reaching Padang Besar at 2105hrs (7hrs5min), while the down service leaves Padang Besar at 0745hrs, reaching Gemas at 1500hrs (7hrs15mins). This is certainly great news for those looking for alternate travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Padang Besar than the current single service (which leaves KL Sentral at 0930hrs and starts the return journey at 1600hrs). Do note however that this service bypasses Butterworth & Bukit Mertajam, and has limited number of stops so check the schedule provided at the end of this post.
GEMAS – BUTTERWORTH vv via KL Sentral – this service is more of an extension of the current service between KL Sentral and Butterworth, with different timing. The up service leaves Gemas at 1630hrs, leaving KL Sentral at 1835hrs (2hrs5mins), reaching Butterworth at 2240hrs (6hrs10mins from Gemas, 4hrs5mins from KL Sentral).
BUTTERWORTH – PADANG BESAR – the up service leaves Butterworth at 1200hrs, reaching Padang Besar at 1345hrs (1hr45mins), while the down service leaves Padang Besar at 0945hrs, reaching Butterworth at 1130hrs (1hr45mins)
PADANG BESAR – IPOH – the timing has been changed. Up service leaves Ipoh at 0530hrs, reaching Padang Besar at 0910hrs, while the down service now leaves Padang Besar at 1715hrs, reaching Ipoh at 2055hrs.
Incidentally, KTM is also launching the Melaka – Negeri Sembilan Komuter service on the same date. The Shuttle will shuttle between Seremban and Tampin (55 services daily) and Seremban and Gemas (4 services daily).
The first of the 6-car Class 93 ETS Intercity EMUs built by CSR ZELC has finally entered service last Friday 3 September 2015. ETS 201 began service by operating the 5AM service from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur Sentral (EG9301). The ETS then operated the 9.30AM KL Sentral to Padang Besar service (EG9208).
The new ETS sports (some) facing seats with tables, a Muslim prayer room, disabled toilet, electrical convenience outlet and ceiling-mounted Passenger Information System (PIS) screens. Arrival at stations are automatically announced by male and female voices which sound familiar. The trains are also equipped with LTE-enabled WiFi throughout but at this stage it has not been turned on yet.
Below are some internal shots of the new trains.
KTM Komuter, the suburban commuter service by KTM, will be launching its Northern services come this Friday 11th September. The new service will be using three of the older three-car EMU (Class 83 – two in operation, one on standby), plying between Kamunting in Northwestern Perak, Butterworth in Penang and Gurun in Southern Kedah.
However, unlike the Klang Valley KTM Komuter service where one will find the trains operating at intervals as short as 15 minutes, this service will be more like that plying between Rawang and Tanjung Malim, i.e. a “shuttle” service. Trains will be running at 3-hour intervals, with an end-to-end journey in each direction taking slightly over two hours. Trains from either direction will go into Butterworth before resuming their journey.
The trains will be calling at all stations between Kamunting and Gurun, namely Bagan Serai, Parit Buntar, Nibong Tebal, Simpang Ampat, Bukit Mertajam, Bukit Tengah, Butterworth, Tasek Gelugor, and Sungai Petani. As to why the services start and end at Kamunting and Gurun rather than the more common sense Taiping and Sungai Petani, we speculate that this has to do with the fact that neither Taiping nor Sungai Petani has an immediate passing loop where trains could be stabled for the return journey. Still, for Gurun especially we opine the Komuter service will be a godsend. This will also undoubtedly be great news for those who wish to commute daily to Penang for work but live outside the state.
KTMB has just released a statement today announcing the commencement of the existing Ekspres Langkawi service to and from Johor Bahru. The overnight service, which currently serves between KL Sentral and Haadyai in Thailand, will begin running from Johor Bahru come 1st September 2015. It will therefore be possible for passengers originating in Singapore to take a through train from Johor Bahru in south of the country all the way to Haadyai in Thailand. The Northbound service will leave Johor Bahru Sentral (JBS) daily at 5pm, reaching Haadyai the next day at 11:40am (Thai time – 12:40pm Malaysian). The southbound service will leave Haadyai at 5:45pm (Thai time – 6:45pm Malaysian), reaching Johor Bahru the next day at 4:25pm.
In the same press release, KTMB also announced the addition of two new ETS services to / from the north starting on the same date. The Kuala Lumpur – Butterworth sector will now get its own dedicated service, which leaves Butterworth for Kuala Lumpur at 7AM daily, reaching the capital at 10:50AM. The return trip to the North leaves at 8PM, reaching Butterworth at 5 minutes to midnight. This is certainly great news for those in the North to do a quick day trip to Kuala Lumpur, though some may find the departure from and arrival in Butterworth times slightly inconvenient. We think this may have to do with the availability of the new Class 93 EMU ETS for service, of which at least one is expected to be released into service very soon after completing a shakedown test run. We have no doubt however that as more of the new Class 93 ETS sets are released into service, the times will be improved as will be the choices.
KTMB will also be resuming shuttle services in the East Coast between Kemubu and Tumpat, come 31 August.
The Star today reports that CSR ZELC is working hard to meet a deadline set by the Malaysian Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to resolve issues that has delayed the release of the new Class 93 ETS EMUs.
The report states that the major problem affecting the trains is the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system, which is supplied by Bombardier. While CSR denies its trains are inherently problematic, it was noted that other trainsets (Class 83/91), manufactured by Hyundai, did not experience the problem.
SPAD was also quoted as saying that while it realises the mounting pressure to release the new trainsets for use, it will not give the approval for the new trainsets to enter commercial service until the Land Public Transport Act requirements are met.
The Star today reports that SPAD will not compromise on the safety aspects of the new Class 93 ETS EMUs. It is stated as quoting this to explain why the brand new trainsets have not yet entered service. The ETS services launched to the North a few days ago utilise the older Class 91 EMUs.
The trainsets are being tested and commissioned according to internationally recognised standard, the IEC61133. According to SPAD’s statement, the first set, ETS201 had failed the Free Fault Running (FFR) shakedown test, which requires the trainset to clock 10,000km without a single major failure. Each failure while testing would reset the kilometrage clock back to zero. The Star report goes on to explain how each potential failure could affect safety of train operations.
We are aware that many people are ecstatic over the launch of the new service to the North, and SPAD has been at the receiving end of some harsh criticisms for “delaying” the use of the new trains. The Star article would hopefully clear the air.
Amid the excitement of the newly launched ETS services to the North, KTMB is also introducing extra services using locomotive-hauled coaches to Padang Besar. The poster below, taken from KTMB’s website, details availability of the service.
The service utilises one of the two recently launched INKA second class coach rakes. Each rake is made up of six (6) Airconditioned Second Class coaches (ASC), one buffet car (ABC), and one Power Generating Car (PGC). Each ASC could accommodate sixty (60) seated passengers.
This service stops at a limited number of stations between KL Sentral and Padang Besar (eight); compare this to the newly launched ETS services at thirteen. Travel time with the INKA coaches is about one extra hour when compared to that of the ETS.
We just got word that effective tomorrow the ETS direct service to Padang Besar (direct as in not entailing change of trains) will commence. The service will leave KL Sentral at 0930 in the morning, stopping at 13 stations and reaching Padang Besar at 1500hrs. It would effect the return journey an hour later, reaching KL Sentral at 2115hrs. For fares and stations, refer to the photos below, courtesy of Mr Zainal Rashid Zakaria via Facebook
What is not clear is whether this service replaces the earlier non direct services between Ipoh – Butterworth – Padang Besar, or if it’s an addition. We will update this entry once we get the information.
EDIT: We can now confirm that the service is in addition to the one launched a day earlier. Just like the earlier service, this service will also utilise the older Class 91 EMU
The local press reported yesterday the commencement of ETS service from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar which began today. The news was greeted with a stream of congratulatory messages to KTMB and the mood among people who have been looking forward to it is generally an ecstatic one.
However, what was not clearly conveyed in most publications is the fact that it is not, at least not yet, a direct service from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar, or Butterworth for that matter. A glance at the released timetable and fare would tell you that the services are in fact Ipoh-Butterworth vv and Butterworth -Padang Besar vv. One would have to ‘hop’ trains in order to realise a trip from Kuala Lumpur to the North. To make matters slightly complicated is that the timing of the service makes it impossible for one to arrive in Ipoh in time to catch the connecting train to the North from KL. The train starts from Ipoh at 0500hrs, reaching Butterworth slightly under two hours later at 0650. The first train from KL would not reach Ipoh until 0820.
The train from Ipoh, having reached Butterworth, would then continue as another service to Padang Besar at 0730, reaching the latter at 0915. It would effect the return service at 1400hrs, reaching and leaving Butterworth at 1545 and 1700, before terminating in ipoh at 1850hrs. It is therefore possible currently for people from Padang Besar to get to KL via ETS (the last service of the day from Ipoh to KL leaves at 2000hrs) but there is no such connection from the other direction.
This whole arrangement is affected by the use of one of the older Class 91 EMU ETS, not the newer CSR ZELC Class 93s. At least not yet. And for the upcoming Hari Raya KTM is offering another service, direct to Padang Besar, using locomotive hauled coaches – the brand new INKA coaches.
Ticketwise we have been informed that ETS tickets will have to be bought separately for the separate sectors, though we imagine this is something you can do at any one station. For fares and time table, see images below (COURTESY OF MR ZAINAL RASHID ZAKARIA via Facebook)
This arrangement is temporary, however, we are sure you’ll be glad to hear. As more of the Class 93 ETS EMUs come online after successfully completing testing and commissioning, a more direct service will be introduced. Currently two sets are under testing, with the whole new fleet of ten expected to be in service by January 2016.
The Star reports that the planned resumption of KTMB passenger services on the East Coast line for Hari Raya may not come to pass due to unsatisfactory progress in ensuring the line is safe for operation. The line, which had been battered by unusual heavy floods last December, is in precarious state and KTMB has been working to restore the line. However, the Malaysian Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) says its approval for resumption of services is conditional upon KTMB restoring the line to meet safe operating conditions. SPAD quoted, in particular, the sleepers and stretches of ballast needing replacement, for which KTMB had only so far done a small amount of replacement works.