Apr 20, 2018

20 KTM ETS - Train Ride To Penang

Train to Butterworth and back. ETS, short for Electric Train Service, is currently my favourite way of traveling. No more worrying about getting bus drivers with an adrenaline high on the road and braving the menace of traffic jams. That, and how we have to hold off our toilet needs until we reach a rest area; Plus how boring to remain seated the entire journey!

The ETS has given me a freedom I find refreshing.

KTM ETS At Butterworth Station

I took my ride from KL Sentral. The waiting zone was on the upper floor. When it was nearly time to board the train, the ticketing assistant approached us and held up a placard with train details. Everyone assembled in front of her. With card held high, she herded us like tourists a floor down, leading us to the boarding area.

Boarding The ETS To Butterworth, Penang

Ten minutes into the journey, a train conductor checks our ticket and gives it a stamp of approval, for real.

Platinum tickets gets me to Penang in the shortest time at 4 hours with the least stops made in between. Passengers get a drink and snack/s. I was given a bottle of soybean drink on my first trip down. On the more recent trip, they gave us a bottle of mineral water, a cookie and a packet of nuts. [Update 01/06/18: Snacks and drinks will not always be provided. It's a 'your lucky day' thing!

No snacks or drink was provided for free on the Gold ticket train I hopped on once - this ticket is priced cheaper and takes a longer travel time.

Platinum Tickets Train Snacks

What. The. Hard-boiled eggs, char siew pao, pulut panggang, a huge tin of peanuts. I turned to look at the group of happening senior citizens seated across the aisle who seemed to be having a picnic on the train. Food is a little pricey here and runs out quickly, so it's best to bring your own which was what our cheerful neighbouring passengers did.

There is a total of 6 coaches, 3 toilets and 1 FnB bar. More than enough overhead luggage compartment above the seats and a dedicated section for larger bags.

KTM ETS Toilet
This is the most spacious one on board to accommodate wheelchair users.

I love going to the FnB bar as an excuse to stretch my legs and enjoy hanging around the connecting area near the glass doors. These doors open with the press of a button located in the middle. Watching the scenery made the journey peaceful and zen-like. I could have done that from the comfort of my seat but my itchy legs wouldn't have allowed it - gotta walk or stand a bit.

KTM ETS FnB Kopi Centre
There's sandwiches, noodles and rice.

For those who can't let go of their electric devices, there is a power socket below each pair of seats where you can charge phones or power up laptops. It must be said though that it is difficult to reach in the tight space we had between seats. I saw a sweet young chap volunteering to assist an uncle with it.

3-Pin Socket Below

There's a tray table for each seat like those on aeroplanes. If you're traveling in a group, there are seats that face each other, just for 4 or 8 if you take the ones across too. The best thing about these seats is the large shared table in between - I'm thinking monopoly and a host of card games.

Tray Table

The air-con is really cold and many people had their sweater on along with a cup of hot milo or coffee in their hands. I was already dressed in warm clothes when I boarded the train so I didn't have to go digging my bag for a long-sleeved anything.

Eh, what's that on the wall? A secret trash bin! Not so secret now that I've noticed it. This is my lepak spot on the train.

KTM ETS - The Bin and My Lepak Spot

When we arrived at Butterworth station, we hopped onto the free shuttle bus service heading to the ferry terminal. Even though it was within walking distance, construction work of a new building made it difficult and unsafe to access on foot.

The ride across by ferry to Penang island took a mere 15minutes.

KTM ETS Butterworth Waiting Area

KTM ETS Butterworth Waiting Area

I was impressed that train was punctual in leaving and reaching our destination. On my second trip however, there was a 15-30 minute delay due to construction works of a new track in Kuala Lumpur. It was going slow as a safety measure when it passed this area.

A short footage of the scenery I saw on my train ride on the earlier part of my journey back to KL:

Tickets can be purchased online (http://www.ktmb.com.my/ktmb_ui/) but I have yet to try this. I get mine from KL Sentral.


  1. Thank you for sharing so much details about these lovely ETS trains which I have heard so much. They really look comfortable and ultra modern like those bullet trains in Shanghai and Japan.
    I would rather take this 4 hours than a flight that needs over 5 hours of preparation journey and flight.

    I wonder where else does the ETS ply?

    1. You're welcome, TM. Oh yeah, and it's an hour journey for me just to get to the airport! Then the queue to drop off my luggage ..waiting around. I find the ETS convenient and so much more relaxing since it involves less running around. Hop on and hop off - that's it.

      It goes all the way to Padang Besar, which I believe connects to Thai Railway. There are tickets to many of the main towns too like Ipoh, Kampar, Alor Setar.

  2. Thanks for sharing the details, I feel I am on board the train to Penang...

  3. Reminded me of the Eurostar that I took from London to Paris last year. So comfy.

    Very funny when you mentioned the train attendant holding sign and ushering passengers to the boarding area. Haha.

    Now travelling to Penang sounds so easy and convenient now. No need to fly. Another alternative to travel. I like that.

    1. Yeah..I felt that was funny too - such a touristy thing, lol! Me too - the more alternatives, the better to ease traffic jams and spread the crowd out during festive season and holidays.

  4. Very convenient and relaxing too!

    1. I've become a big fan because of that, Angie :D

  5. I yet board ETS to north part
    But I hope in future the ETS link to Southern part of Malaysia will be finishing soon so that I could travel from South to North comfortably :D

    1. Imagine if it linked to many towns all over peninsular ;) Cuti-cuti Malaysia will be amazing!

  6. I've never taken the ETS. It looks really clean.

  7. Wow, the train looks nice & clean! When is your trip to SG? xoxo

  8. Replies
    1. Yes, it was enjoyable just watching the scenery :D

  9. Saw a friend blog about the train. say very comfy. One of these days maybe can try taking the train

    1. I prefer this over buses and driving ;) Too bad the ETS doesn't cover a lot of areas.

  10. I took ETS from Butterworth to Taiping for voting. Not bad and smooth journey. But no refreshment given even with Platinum. I guess journey too short. lol

    1. Guess what? I didn't get any on my most recent trip too! Inconsistent. Grrr!!


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