My Experience On Board ETS Electric Train From KL Sentral to Ipoh

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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.

LCD on ETS
the screen is smaller than the one in Singapore – Butterworth Express – only ETS advertisements were shown

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.

toilet on ETS
stainless steel toilet bowl

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.

stainless steel toilet on ETS
small wash basin in one corner in the toilet

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.

rolls of toilet paper
free flow toilet paper

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!

toilet water hose
the water hose is a must-have in Malaysian toilets

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.

ETS in Ipoh
the train arrived at Ipoh Railway Station

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.

old and new KTM trains
the old diesel engine train and the new electric train parked side by side in Ipoh

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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With love

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37 thoughts on “My Experience On Board ETS Electric Train From KL Sentral to Ipoh

  1. Hey, thanks for the review! I plan to take the train back to Ipoh tomorrow morning. Better go on it now rather than later when it hits RM50 huh?

  2. Just made a day trip to Ipoh to attend a wedding yesterday and our party of 5 took the ETS. We left at 11.00 sharp as scheduled and arrived at 1.05 as scheduled. similarly we left at 3 and arrived 5.05. Only additional comments I would like to make:
    1.Bookings cannot be made on line. you have to go to KL Sentral personally. No problem locating the ticket office as there are nice footprints arrows on the floors at KL Sentral leading you to the doors of the ticket office. You can’t miss the catchy blue/yellow arrows on the floor.
    2. Maximum speed was only 151KM per hour and this was just a few seconds before Tanjung Malim. The speed is dispalyed on the TV screen in each coach.
    3. Half of the guests at the wedding came by ETS from KL! So that’s how popular the service is. Only thing is it can be quite expensive when travelling in groups. Perhaps ETS can promote group concession fares. Otherwise, no complains.

  3. Hi Maria!

    Thanks for your update and feedback.

    I believe ETS will offer online booking soon. It will be very convenient!

    Also, RM30 is promotional fare. ETS said that they will increase it sometime in February. Hopefully, it would still be affordable.

  4. Very helpful report. Tks. I will be in KL in May and want to make flying visit to uncle in Ipoh. Seems feasible by train whereas before I chartered taxi and had to stay a night at hotel in Ipoh at much expense!! Will be tiring I guess but won’t complain as I save money and can sleep on train!!

  5. I feel like they should maintain the price at RM30. Charging us RM50 for a service that is still not as smooth as promised is too much. I hate that they say, “We’ll be arriving in Ipoh in 1hour and 56 minutes” when in fact, it arrived in 2 hours and 15 minutes! 56 minutes yang tak boleh tahan tu 🙂

    Or they’d announce, we’re making 3 stops only and they’d make 5! And I don’t know about you, but they seem to like speeding up from Kampar onwards.

    Other than that, seats are comfortable. Toilet’s clean and dry (here’s hoping they’d stay that way) oh and I love the blinds.

  6. Zara,

    I’ll be taking the ETS for the 3rd time tomorrow, and on paper, it will take 2 hours and 15 minutes because it’s the transit train. Let’s see how long it will actually take. Most importantly, I want to be home in one piece! LOL

  7. To add to what I mentioned earlier, if you like to have drinks/food, ask for the C coach, that’s where the buffet counter is.
    Not all coaches have got toilets. Ask for the B coach. Otherwise you have to walk across the adjoining plates between coaches and it’s quite scary like the mini platform is going to split and you get caught in the middle. It doesn’t help that the train sways quite a lot and you try to balance yourself on the little adjoining platform between two coaches. Quite an art.
    Also on our return trip we had seats facing backwards. two of our friends got quite sick seating in this direction!

  8. Thanks for the comments and experiences shared. I am hoping to use the train (KTMB) service for the first time in my almost 1/2 a decade years old.. hahaha..
    I’m going to Ipoh and be trying to use the ETS. Can I just get to KL Sentral (or Bandar Tasek Selatan which is nearer to putrajaya) and easily get the ticket to Ipoh…or I need to book beforehand???
    Please help.
    Thanks.

  9. Bea,

    As far as I know, you can only purchase your ticket at the ETS office in KL Sentral, not Bandar Tasek Selatan or online.

    You can buy your ticket before the train arrives but there is no guarantee that tickets are not already sold out, so to be safe, I always buy in advance.

  10. A good read Emily. Happy to read a blog written by a Malaysian without the usual grammatical errors!

    I took a ride on 18 January, taking from Sentral early morning on the first train and returning in the evening about 6. It was scary for me as when I arrived at Sentral, I had gone to the KTM ticket office and saw a sign saying it opens at 7:30 a.m. and the ETS was supposed to start around 6 am! Little did I know ETS has a separate ticket counter. For a few days beforehand, I was trying my best to find as much as I can about the service, but it was not particularly clear on their website.

    Anyway, the service turned out to be pleasant, starting on time and arriving on time. On the return trip, someone took my window seat. As soon as it moved, I changed seats to find someone quiet to use my laptop. I didn’t realize they had power points until I had reached Rawang, when I asked one of the ushers. She said they were not on all seats but on some seats only.

    It’s a good effort by KTMB, and I hope they build on this little achievement.

  11. Thanks for your feedback, Jalil! Ah, no wonder on my first trip, I couldn’t find the power point. I couldn’t be that dense, could I? LOL

  12. Hi! Emily. My wife & I are visiting from Australia arriving KLIA 3.20am Sunday 27/03/11 then transferring to KL Sentral for the 1st ETS to Ipoh at 6.20am. We emailed & rang the ETS office to book & pay in advance to no avail. We therefore hope to obtain return tickets when we arrive at KL Sentral approx. 5.30am.
    We found more information from your site than from the ETS site, thank you heaps. However as we have two large travel cases as well as our carry on bags, is there ample space for storing the large cases.
    I noted Maria (13) suggested ‘C’ coach for the buffet & ‘B’ coach for the toilets. Do you have any comments on this.
    Thank you again for your comments & photos & from all the other people.
    Please feel free to reply. Kind regards, Jeanette & Terry May
    from Sans Souci NSW Australia.

  13. Hello,

    As I have only travelled with one bag, I am not sure if there is a compartment for large suitcases, like express buses. However, I have seen other travellers storing their huge backpacks overhead and trolley bags at the front of the coach. You may want to request for seats at the front of the coach, in this case.

    Coach C is where the food/drinks counter (NOT buffet) is. If you plan on getting food, this is a good coach. However, do bear in mind that people will keep coming in out of this coach for food from other coaches so it’s not easy to get some shut eye. On my most recent ride, stewardesses went around taking orders from passengers and they then brought the food over, so it’s really not a huge concern which coach you are in.

    As for the toilets, I believe there are toilets being shared by two coaches; for example, there are toilets between Coach A and B. I am not 100% sure, though, since I didn’t walk the length of the entire train.

    Also, as far as I know, this RM30 train fare from KL Sentral to Ipoh is promotional fare and expires on 15th March. Noting your travelling date, I believe the fare will be more expensive then but I have no idea how much it will be.

    I believe that you will have no problems getting your tickets at the ETS counter a KL Sentral.

    If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

  14. why now Train ETS morning dun have stop at sungkai station. now can u stop at sungkai station is 6.12am…

  15. Hi all, need some advised. I am going Ipoh tonite 23th June. Reached Ipoh around 8 am. I intend to go and buy tikcet for 26th June from Ipoh to KL then to airport.I want to find out. what time is the ETS office operate ? I try buying online but it seem the service is not yet up. Please advised. Thank you

  16. Hi, just would like to know the fare for senior citizen from kl to Ipoh and return and is the fast train still that clean.
    Thank you.
    ling

  17. Good review, but still Malaysian still far way to go to improve the system. Hopefully ETS will keep on maintain/upgrading the facilities. Malaysian tends to have good start in providing new service but sooner, the facilities will be rotten due to bad maintenance and abusive users.

    As for the toilets, they should place the utilities away. It looks so messy.

    Overall, i still think that the service is still incomparable to the electric train service in oversea. I tried it in Taiwan and it was owesome but rather expensive (rm100++ per one way trip) but it worth for the money as for its quality service and cleanliness. Most important is the toilet in the train and at the train station is clean! Not to mention, the schedule of the train is on time! These are the things that I am not seeing in Malaysia…

    ETS should be taking Aeroline as good example in providing the transportation service. Though Aeroline is slightly expensive (rm60 per trip from KL-PG) but I am rather pay for it… They have electric sockets and provide free foods. Too bad, wifi is not in the bus…. Malaysia’s transportation is big NONO…

  18. Forget to mention, the electric train at KL sentral to KLIA is far better that ETS.. but still expensive (rm35 per trip KL sentral – KLIA). The trip is about 30mins. But the service is good. The person who sell the tickets is polite and he even smile to you when handover the tickets and changes to you.

    Conclusion, if you want something good, u need to pay more…

  19. excellent ride, punctual, clean and hassle to Ipoh. Kudos to KTMB. I bought my tickets thru phone @ and collected them a day before the ride, which is very convenient with professional staff.

    Its a joy ride for my old mom and me to travel.

    Keep up good work KTM.

  20. Hi Emily, have you tried purchasing ETS tickets at Ipoh’s railway station recently? I find it a real pain and hassle.. The waiting time for purchase of tickets is a real killer! If you are there during lunch hour or weekends, you could be waiting more than an hour.. easy!
    I went to purchase a ticket recently at about 10.30am on a weekday, and seeing there were only 7 people ahead of me, I thought this should be a breeze. However, there was just one staff sitting at the counter attending to customers, while 2 or 3 others looked like they were walking about leisurely, chatting away, doing absolutely nothing. I waited 25 minutes before my number was called. Unbelievable!

  21. Pls improve Ipoh ETS train staff customer service. Ur staff r being rude, deaf and blind. On the 19th Feb, I were thr to inquiry about the schedule bt thn thr is no respond frm ur staff. The both staff sitting inside while they are closing the counter and cracking jokes. few people are standing there, wait for them to serve their customer service bt they are not.KL Central Staff are the best and well train staff.

  22. Hi Emily, this is my first time travelling back hometown with ETS. May I know is there any storage cabin to stow away our luggage besides the overhead compartment/deck? as I will be having a trolley luggage which is a size bigger than hand carry.

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