Malaysia has a relatively small railway network, with the heavy rail component covering 1,833 km of track compared to over 2,600 km in Vietnam and over 4,000 km in neighbouring Thailand. Malaysia does, however, have a faster, more modern and efficient range of intercity and suburban rail service than any other country in South East Asia except for Singapore.
About Train Travel in Malaysia
The main railway line in Malaysia is the West Coast Line. This train line runs from Padang Besar Railway Station on the border with Thailand as far south as Johor Bahru, which is the main crossing point into Singapore. The top half of the line, from Padang Besar to Gemas, is electrified. Train services on this electrified section of track are very fast with a modern style of carriage, and the ticket prices tend to reflect the quality of the service, and they are generally a lot more expensive than bus services for the same routes. The top part of the West Coast Line is notable for offering long distance trains services which are faster than bus services on the same route, and this is rare in South East Asia where bus services typically travel much quickly than train services. The lower half of the West Coast Mainline from Gemas to Johor Bahru is not electrified and much slower and less frequent services are available on much older style diesel trains.
The other two major train lines in Malaysia are:
- East Coast Mainline: This service from runs from near to the Eastern side of the border with with Thailand at Tumpat south to Gemas. Train services on this line are slow and cheap, but generally punctual. Malaysia’s only sleeper train service, the Ekspress Rakyat Timuran, operates on this line and after Gemas it travels onto Johor Bahru switching to the lower part of the West Coast Line. The East Coast Line was developed when the Malay peninsula was an English colony and the line travelled through areas where rubber was farmed and iron ore was once mined. In modern times the towns which this train line connects are sparsely populated.
- Sabah State Railway: This is the only heavy railway line in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. The track is 134 km long and runs from Tanjung Aru, near Kota Kinabalu, to Tenom in the interior of Sabah state. Diesel passenger trains run on this railway line which has historically suffered from a lower level of state investment than has been made available to heavy and light railway projects in the populous West Coast area of West Malaysia.
About Trains in Malaysia
West Malaysia is also notable for the variety of different types of train service which run on the heavy railway network. Electrifying only part of the part of the railway network has fragmented the Malaysian railway network as a whole and more infrastructure work needs to be carried out before longer distance train services spanning the length of the peninsula can operate.
7 different types of long distance trains operate in West Malaysia:
- ETS Komuter: Cheapest electrified services operating on four routes on the West Coast Line and suburban lines.
- ETS Silver: Electrified service running from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh which are cheaper than other services on the same route.
- ETS Gold: Services which run the full line of the electrified part of the West Coast Line from Padang Besar to Gemas and between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth.
- ETS Platinum: Premier electrified service running from Padang Besar to Gemas and from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth.
- Southern Shuttle: This is a diesel train service which runs from Gemas to Johor Bahru on the lower part of the West Coast Line.
- Ekspress Rakyat Timuran: Single daily sleeper train service running in each direction along the entire length of the East Coastline Lne and then continuing onto Johor Bahru at the southern end of the West Coast Line.
- East Coast Shuttle: Diesel train services operating on parts of the East Coast Line from Tumpat to Gua Musang and Gua Musang to Kuala Lipis.
Buy Malaysia Train Tickets
Use the Search Box below to book your Malaysia train tickets in advance online.
You don’t need a train ticket printed on special paper for this journey. Prints outs and screen shots of your electronic booking voucher on accepted on Malaysia Trains.