Catching the train from Penang to Kuala Lumpur – March 2017

The train is a very viable transport choice between Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Look here for prices and timetables, and to book online:  http://www.travel-penang-malaysia.com/ktmb-ets-schedule.html

Or see the official KTM web site, which is more difficult to use: KTM – train company web site – note that for purposes of the web site your point of origin is Butterworth, and destination is Sentral Kuala Lumpur.

Basically there are several trains a day in both directions, and the ticket prices as of this writing are RM59 or RM79, depending on which train you take.  The train is one class.

This blog describes the journey from George Town to Butterworth, where the train station is located, and then on to KL by train.

after alighting from a taxi or bus you walk along a passage towards the sea and the KTM office, where you can buy a train ticket if you wish.

note the opening hours of the KTM office

the KTM office

at the office the path turns right angles to the left, then later 90 degrees to the right and up a ramp to the ferry waiting area

some ferries load cars this way

looking back from the ferry towards George Town

looking back from the ferry towards George Town on the other side

about to disembark the ferry

Once you disembark from the ferry you walk straight ahead and then veer right, heading for both the bus station and train station.

you walk along an elevated walkway and cross the railway line

You cross a pedestrian bridge over the railway, turn left…

elevated walkway

at the time of writing construction continues, but you go straight here for the bus terminal, or right for the train station

… and then to the right for the train station, or straight still for the bus station.

the ground floor of the station – nothing but a small waiting area

you can catch a lift or walk up the stairs to the first floor where you can see the bus station from the window

It’s very easy to find. There is a lift that takes you up to the ticket offices and waiting area.

corridor towards the first floor ticketing and waiting area

the ticketing and waiting area

The station is bigger now, but it is very hot inside. You aren’t allowed access to the platforms until the train has arrived and passengers have disembarked. In my case we were allowed onto the train about 10 minutes before the train was due to depart. The carriages and seats are clearly marked, so finding one’s seat is easy.

the board

a poster

a poster

the platform, which you reach by walking down the steps or catching a lift

the train

the train

inside the carriage

inside the carriage

the network diagram

The train departed on time, and arrived in KL on time.

the view a few minutes after departure

the snack bar

There is a small café taking part of one of the carriages, with just few tables. You can buy coffee, teas, soft drinks, and a few light meals. The coffee was ok. The noodles I ordered were not very good.

food available

availability notice

what I bought

every passenger receives this snack package

contents of the snack package

scenery

The scenery is pleasant enough, but quite similar to the same trip by road.

scenery

The train makes a few stops along the way for short times, and is a smooth ride

Taiping station

Taiping station

scenery

scenery

scenery

scenery

Ipoh station

Ipoh station

Ipoh station

toilet is clean

There are clean toilets in a couple of the carriages.  LCD displays show progress, the next station and the speed of the train, which reaches about 140kph.

the electronic board in the train showing progress and speed

old KL station, a few minutes before the train arrives in KL Sentral. This is a view of the station I took from a bus

And as I mentioned above, the train arrived on time.

Of the three choices of public transport to KL, which is better?

If you want to see the scenery, then surface transport. But really, once is enough.

The airfare can be a similar price to the train or bus, especially if you factor in the cost from KL Sentral station or the bus station to the airport, if you are flying out of KLIA. So I tend to think flying is better if you’re going to the airport.

From Penang to central KL all three modes take around the same time.

If you’re going to central KL, neither the train station or bus station is really in the centre, but you can quite cheaply and reasonably quickly get there.  Whereas from the airport it’s a bit expensive by train to central KL, or slow by bus.  So going to central KL I’d suggest the surface transport.

The train fare can be higher than many bus fares, but similar to the better bus companies. With a bus you might get WiFi, with the train you don’t, but there are working power points on the train for every two seats. The train is smoother and safer, and more comfortable, so that would be my choice, unless you want to save a few Ringgit by using a cheap and possibly not so safe bus company.
So, to summarise, my idea is to fly between Penang and KL  if you’re then flying out of KLIA, or vice versa; otherwise catch the train.

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7 comments

  1. last time i took the bus to penang,many years ago from kl it took me right into penang, saves me that journey by ferry. that was what attracted me to the bus. all the way centre of penang to centre of kl, no need to come out and find my own way across the ferry to or from butterworth. i find esp at the end of a long journey to have to make my own way across the ferry to penang is very tiring. so for that alone, i consider the bus the best way to travel to penang.

    1. Now the regular buses stop at the Butterworth terminal and or the Sungai Nibong terminal, with Aerobus finishing at Queensbay Mall. None take you to central George Town.

      1. I think you’re referring to Komtar. Yes, they have a local bus station at Komtar, but the long distance ones, as I have mentioned, are at Sungai Nibong and Butterworth, next to the train station.

      2. yes, i was thinking of komtar, but could not recall what it was called. shows just how long ago since i last was in penang. its the first time i heard of sg nibong, so i googled it, and found some bus companies pick up in komtar and go to sg nibong to pick up the rest of the passengers. but i guess none of them go on to komtar on the return journey from kl. they will all stop off at sg nibong. still better than stopping off at butterworth.

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