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Electric trains (to) give Ipoh Railway Station new spark of life

TRANSIT noted this interesting article about the renewed activity at the Ipoh Railway Station, in the days leading up to the arrival of Electric Train Services (ETS) – tentatively scheduled for “mid-month” in July 2010.

We will excuse Mr. Sivaji’s tendency to speculate on the nature of the service and the tickets – perhaps he is displaying a level of confidence in KTMB that others do not have – or maybe the editing of his written copy was a bit selective.

Never mind – read the article yourself.

Electric trains give Ipoh Railway Station new spark of life (NST)

The Taj Mahal of Ipoh is currently experiencing a revival. — Picture by V. Sivaji

IPOH: The Ipoh Railway Station, known as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh, is once again abuzz with activity with the [upcoming] introduction of the Electric Train Service (ETS).

“We are glad. The train service has indirectly improved our daily earnings,” said taxi driver Ahmad Kassim.

The resurgence of the station is mainly because of the increase in the number of people using the rail service to travel to and from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth, Penang.

The train tickets are affordable, and the new coaches are comfortable with improved service.

[TRANSIT: Since when were the fares announced? And since when has the service started? Oh wait, perhaps this reporter has come back from the future?]

“Nowadays, I prefer to take the train to get to Kuala Lumpur as it is convenient to get off at KL Sentral and get on with my chores,” said Karam Singh, who goes to the city frequently to see his children who are working there.

He said although the journey by train was slightly longer than by bus, it was more comfortable.

The scenic view of the countryside one enjoys along the way more than makes up for the extra travelling time, added Karam.

He has also noticed that there are many students and working adults opting to travel by train.

“Travellers can get off at Tanjong Malim, Sungkai, Kampar or Tapah Road along the journey,” he added.

He also welcomed the recent announcement by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) president Dr Aminuddin Adnan that the travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh would be reduced to just two hours.

The new service is expected to be launched by mid-month.

[TRANSIT: See – the reporter must have come back from the future! In our time, the comfortable service with the affordable tickets has not started yet!]

“With a speed of 140kph, ETS will reduce travel time and stewards and stewardesses will also provide comfort to travellers,” said Aminuddin.

KTMB plans to have five ETS trains to provide eight return trips for the Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh route daily.

The maximum capacity for each ETS train is 350 passengers per trip. — By V. Sivaji


Like many others, we are clearly looking forward to the arrival of ETS between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh station. It will be a wonderful contrast to see modern electric trains serving two classically designed railway stations which showcase the age of train travel.

Unfortunately, while KTMB rockets to the future, Ipoh public transport will still be largely stuck in the past.

The irony is that the KL-Ipoh double tracking and electrification was completed in mid-2007 and shuttle trains have been running between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh since 2008 – but there has been no noticeable improvements to public transport in Ipoh or connections to the Ipoh railway station.

The Perak Transit service does not count, since it is a new intercity bus service, not an urban bus service connecting to the Ipoh Railway Station.

Perhaps in Ipoh, time really does stand still. We at TRANSIT would prefer to see real investment in public transport in the state of Perak, especially in the Greater Ipoh area. See our proposal for a bus rapid transit network for Ipoh here.

In case you were wondering, the “traveling to the future” reference is connected to the 25th anniversary of the popular film “Back to the Future” which gave Michael J. Fox a career.

13 replies on “Electric trains (to) give Ipoh Railway Station new spark of life”

There are reports stating that the fare for ktm ets will be around RM 30 to RM 35 per trip which is unreasonable. And, KTM is targetting for professionals, businessmen to use ktm ets. This sounds so ridiculous since the most commuters are from middle class. Can KTM ETS really make profit if they focus only on businessmen and professionals and call it as a premium service?

Transit. Why not bring the proposal directly at state government office and ask them to meet the CM. Explain your vision and who knows you might land yourself as an advisor to public transport exco. Hoho..Nice proposal.

Transit needs to do more to get some coverage in the local newspaper. Maybe rockybru can help you..

@watever – believe us, we have tried to give feedback in Selangor, Perak and Penang.

Let’s just say that public transport is not a priority for the governments of these states.

But we will continue to push – and we need the support of bloggers and netizens as well as the broader community.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

Ipoh is small enough that its is not difficult to set up a local bus system. The current buses are so shabby and an embarrassment in Ipoh roads.

Being a city with a large student and senior population would guarantee ridership.


Thanks for the feedback. We agree and are disappointed that no one has really taken the initiative to improve Ipoh bus services.

Unfortunately, state governments still seem to think that public transport is not their responsibility.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

End of June, I read in a malay newspaper, KTM commit to start it KL-Ipoh electric train mid of July but now is already near August but still dreaming?? When it launch, nothing so impress really. Just 140km/h?? Other country train service is working for 380km/h like China. Not to say, Japan, France, German, Italy, UK, US etc etc.. On of the reason is due to embarrassing narrow gauge – 1,000mm gauge that is used by Frank Swettenham but now still be use by us. Even India beat us by 1,676 mm Broad Gauge. KTMB is 125 years back just like it’s anniversary. I think they should change the name to Malaysian Rail and manage by real professional.

I share the same opinion on Zamri regarding our embarassing narrow gauge. In fact, before the construction of double tracking, we should have planned to change those narrow gauge to standard meter gauge. For now, I would say, it’s better for KTM to focus on their ETS and Komuter services. Make them more efficient and affordable at the same time. I would suggest to TRANSIT to bring up the proposal of having discounts for Touch N Go users. It happens in Singapore where u get much cheaper fares when u have the EZ link card. That encourages more people to use public transport and at the same time beats the crowd queuing up at the counter(where sometimes only one counter is opened even during peak hours which is really frustrating).

Hi Saktish

Thanks for the feedback. Right now we believe that maintaining the availability of trains and the reliability of services is a more important challenge for KTMB than improving the speed of passenger services. However, in the future, we hope that investment from the Chinese government could be secured to help defray the costs of constructing standard gauge rail as part of the Singapore-Kunming rail link.

As TRANSIT has stated before, KTMB originated as a freight railway and still thinks like a freight railway. Regauging and similar long term investments require a vision beyond what a single company can provide.

As for the TnG suggestion – believe us, we have brought up this with TnG and SPAD before.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

It reminds me of treasured experienced taking some of Europe’s high speed trains in the 90s as TGV/Eurostar of France and ICE from Frankfurt to Stuttgart, Germany. Probably it’s not the fastest now but at the time, I and friends are proud to be one of the passenger in the fastest train in the world (280-320km/h). When looking out the window, you can’t see anything clearly except the scenic hills and mountains far away moving like a breeze.. I have been to Japan but not having the opportunity taking their famous bullet train (so expensive la). Neither China for the time being. UK, where I studied, does not have HST above 220km/h (not sure now) although the British Rail train is very efficient with great services & reliability. It was my second choice of transportation mode across UK cities after driving car (not merz pls but just a BP600 12yrs-old honda). National Express coach is my third esp on the long summer break where money matters but time not matters.

It is bold idea to have high-speed train in Malaysia as well having a brand new identity as Malaysian Rail, although the priority is to get long list of existing problems fixed. I think this is the only organization that was overlook by the bold Tun Mahathir administration who have restructure, rebranded almost every infrastructure and GLC companies into world-class.

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