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Since it was only the second day the train was in service, I had already expected to encounter teething problems. I just felt that it would be awful for anyone who was not fit enough to wait for the train like that. Anyway, we found our seats and the train went on its way.
In terms of speed, compared to the diesel engine train, the electric train wins hands down obviously, since the top speed that the train went was slightly above 160kmph. The diesel engine train takes 2 hr 55 mins to travel from Stesen Sentral @ KL Sentral to Ipoh but the electric train took just 2hrs 5mins. This was slightly more than the projected duration of 1hr 56mins as announced by the stewardess on board at the beginning of our journey. We only stopped at three stations along the way, instead of the scheduled five: Tanjung Malim, Kampar and Batu Gajah.
In terms of cleanliness, the electric train wins too since it is very new. Everything, like the doors and food tray, works fine. There was no rickety sound that one would hear taking the diesel engine trains. But in terms of a smooth ride, I wouldn’t say that the electric train is much improved from diesel trains. Of course there is a slight improvement but the train went so fast, I actually felt that we should be provided with seat belts. It felt totally funny without the seat belt at the speed it was going.
I found out that most people opted for the train because of the availability of toilets. There are none in express buses, you see, and stopping at rest areas along highways is totally up to the driver, especially for short 2 – 3 hour trips. If he needs to go, the passengers get to go along too. Otherwise, too bad.
On the electric train, there were two toilet cubicles; one for the disabled and one regular. The disabled one is larger and I had the luck to get into it when I purposely went to the toilet to capture some photos. The smaller one was already occupied so I didn’t wait. I have to say that I have never seen so many rolls of toilet paper in a public toilet. You know how we can never find any tissue inside public toilets in Malaysia? Well, don’t worry. Just take a look at this photo!
One thing I MUST mention is that Malaysians have taken their wet toilet habit to a new level on board the electric train. On my ride home, not only was the toilet floor wet inside of the cubicle, the floor outside the door along the corridor was TOTALLY wet too. If you are someone who doesn’t balance well, I think you really should get someone to accompany you. It could be really dangerous with the speed the train travels, even though there are stainless steel rods fixed against the wall for balancing.
Oh yes, before I forget, there is a food bar in the middle coach which was too far a walk for me to get photos of. I saw some people buying sandwiches and canned drinks though. Also, a lot of people asked me if there were wi-fi connectivity and power points. If there were, I didn’t see them. I scanned for wi-fi with my two phones and I also asked the guy who sat next to me who was using his laptop, the guy who stole my window seat, if he could get a connection. He said that he found the access point but it wouldn’t connect. He also confirmed there was no power point.
I read in the papers that there are wi-fi connectivity and power points, though, so this gives me the feeling that I took the bare-bone no-frills electric train, much like Air Asia. When these services are offered fully, it wouldn’t be MYR30 anymore, but closer to MYR50.
For routes and fares (6-month promotion) of the new Electric Train Services (ETS), read: Electric Train Services (ETS) Ipoh – KL Sentral – Seremban
ETA: 15th Nov, 2010 – ETS Revisited – 3-month Review
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