If you interview a sample of Malaysians, you may be surprised that majority never take the train ride more than 3 times in their life at the age of 30. Having said that, I do not differ much. All of all and as far as my brilliant memory recalls, my last experience of a train ride was far older than my first WordStar lesson!
With the ease of road journey after the completion of North-South and East-West Highway, traveling by train is getting less popular. Promotion and price war between the low cost carriers in Malaysia also resulted in higher traveling opportunity by flight instead.
Being curious and since time permits, we booked sleeper (berth) tickets from Sentral Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth on our return trip from KL (Kuala Lumpur). The information on the official website of KTMB (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad) is rather limited so if you plan to travel in Malaysia by train, check out at seat61.com and TravelMalaysiaGuide. Photo and video gallery are available to gauge your expectation.
Sentral Kuala Lumpur is definitely a perfect terminal to hop on a train as it is connected with all modes of transportation like commuter, LRT (Light Rail Transit), ERL (Express Rail Link). Besides, Sentral KL is a huge hub with modern facilities e.g. ATM machines, airlines ticketing counter, cafe, restaurants, bus/taxi service.
The pro of traveling by train:
1. Statistics shows it is safer to travel at night by train compared to road (bus/car).
2. The Malaysian senior citizens and students are entitled for price rebate.
3. Berth or sleeper mode provides a comfortable personal space to stretch your arms and legs.
4. Stops are available for small towns like Rawang, Tg Malim, Parit Buntar, Bukit Mertajam; reaching almost to your door steps unlike flight or express bus with a single destination.
5. Sufficient facilities e.g. seating/squatting toilets with wash basin and food/drinks available for purchase at cafetaria.
6. Average train speed is consistently about 70 – 80 km/h and the journey is rather smooth.
Besides the above truth, your berth unit/location in each coach and folks that you are sharing with (for Standard berth) are beyond our control and unpredictable. If you are fortunate to have a bunch of decent adults sharing the same coach, you may thank God for a peaceful night. Otherwise, sharing coach with kids or crying infants can be torturing for light sleepers. And, it is pretty common for passengers to smoke at the area between the coaches so if your berth is near the door, you may be exposed to air pollution!
Do not worry, there is a solution. If you are sensitive to sound or smell, raise your budget and get a private room (berth) either Deluxe or Premier Class and rest comfortably.
Truly an experience. After all, life is an adventure!