KTMB ETS: Kuala Lumpur – Ipoh – Butterworth

Did you know there is a legal way of reaching Penang with a speed of 140km/hour on the ground from Kuala Lumpur?

If you are afraid of being warped into the horror stories of being stuck in congestion on highway for 9 hours instead of the normal 4 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, why not considered on one of the new and comfortable way to travel to Penang via train. The Electric Train Service (ETA) byKTM extended its reach to Penang on 2015.

That was my choice of transport after being cajoled by hubby on the tiredness of self-driving to Penang. He recommended trying the ETS after hearing stories of comfortable and new train from his colleagues. As a background, we have planned a short getaway to Penang to celebrate Sam’s birthday in September 2017.

The check in counter at KL Sentral.

Let’s review the journey but first how to purchase the tickets?

Well, you could purchase the tickets at selected KTM station below:

~ KL Sentral (5.30am – 1.30am)

~ Kuala Lumpur (6.45am – 9.30pm)

~ Subang Jaya (10.00am – 4.00pm)

~ Shah Alam (10.00am -4.00pm)

~ Klang (8.00am – 7.00pm)

~ Port Klang (8.00am – 7.00pm)

~ Sentul (7.00am – 10.00pm)

~ Rawang (6.00am – 9.00pm)

~ Seremban (2.00am – 12.00am)

I am recommending you to purchase your ETS tickets online. We bought our tickets online at the official website. Please bear in mind that the website is not entirely user-friendly. Importantly, you may only purchase the tickets for maximum 30 days ahead of time and not earlier than that. In addition, I also read some review that recommended booking the tickets via an appointed reseller HERE.

By purchasing online, you may choose your seats or coach (no free seating okay). I will recommend that you choose your seats carefully as I have seen that the some seats are arranged in a way that 2 row of seats faced each other. Imagine staring at strangers for the whole journey.


Once you have purchased the tickets, you need to print it as there is actual train conductor checking your tickets during the journey. If you don’t have the ticket, he may have the right to kick you out of the moving train (just kidding on the last part but I think there is a fine associated to it).


Waiting area


The good thing about taking the ETS train is punctuality as surprising as it sounds in Malaysia. ETS train do departs on time (maybe with a variance of 15 minutes) barring any technical issue. You will just need  arrive 30 minutes before departure unlike at airport.


Once you are on board the train, find your coach and then your seat. You may place the luggage at the designated luggage area or the overhead compartment above your seat. The coach is new and clean and I really hope that it can be maintained nicely.


For those in need of electronic entertainment (laptop, tablet & smartphone), you will be overjoyed with the provided 3-pin socket at every seat. It took me quite a while to locate it and technically it is on sharing basis with your “neighbour” but it is better than no juice at all.


Train conductor checking the ticket of passengers.



Regular amenities are provided on board such as toilets (not the best I’ve been but at least toilet paper is provided =.=”) and also a cafeteria serving simple food such as noodles, Nasi Lemak, sandwich and drinks.


I am also delightfully surprised that each passenger is given drink and cookies on complimentary basis.


There are also LCD screens that shows a movie throughout the journey but there is no audio. The LCD scren double as announcement for each KTM station that you will be stopping by and also the speed of the train which could reach up to 140km/hour.

The journey to Butterworth, Penang took 4 hours and I utilized it completely by catching up on my beauty sleep.  


So what is my verdict after trying it as a first timer?

The overall experience was good and would re-visit the idea of taking the ETS again. As a “motion-sickness” prone person like me, the experience was not bad at all and it’s completely acceptable because there was not much rocking as we normally perceived with a train ride. But maybe the air-conditioning was a little bit too cold but hey I have been to other offices which have much lower temperature in Malaysia. Remember to bring along a thick jacket if you have cold intolerance.


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