Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bringing Folding Bikes Onto Malaysian New ETS Intercity Trains

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BRINGING FOLDING BIKES ONTO MALAYSIAN NEW ETS INTERCITY TRAINS

Of late Keratapi Tanah Melayu (KTM), the main train operator for Peninsular Malaysia, has started new Electric Train Service (ETS) routes running between major towns and cities in the peninsular with a main route running form Gemas to Padang Besar. More towns means more interesting places to visit and explore! And most are within half a day's journey. ETS train tickets can be bought on-line via KTM Intranet, there is a need to register as a member first. Registration is free.
We recently took the Gemas-Padang Besar ETS Train (EG9204) from KL Sentral to Ipoh for a cycling event. Based on this experience, I pen some tips here on bringing folding bicycles (foldies) onto these new ETS trains.
 (Please note that fares/pricing and time-table schedules stated here are correct at the time of this blog. Fares are in Malaysian Ringgit unless otherwise state, click here to go to KTM's site for latest ETS updates)
These routes use the new Class 93 trains, manufactured by China's CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd., these are more streamlined looking models that run at high speed (up to 160kmh). It is an express train with minimum transit stops in between. For some routes, it is an express between to two terminal stations. The train have five coaches A to F; Coach C has a small cafeteria while Coach D have an additional disabled toilet.
Some routes use the older Class 92 trains; these trains have different types of coaches. See the blog on bringing foldies onto the Class 92 trains.

For KTM Commuter Services that provide regular daily services on shorter routes, click here.

For KTM Regular Intercity Diesel Trains (slower trains that stop at many stations), click here.


THIS BLOG IS NOW IRRELEVANT.
KTM HAS NOW BANNED ALL BICYCLES ONTO THE ETS AND INTERCITY TRAINS!!!
PLEASE FIND OTHER MODES OF TRASPORTATION AND GOOD LUCK.
* BICYCLES CAN STILL BE TAKEN ONTO THE COMMUTER AND MRT TRAINS, SEE RELEVANT BLOGS.

Notice on their signboard.


KTM frequently changes their policy on allowing bikes onto the trains. Please go to bottom of this blog for updates on these.






POSITIONS TO STORE BICYCLES WITHIN COACHES


Train layout & coach seating arrangement graphic by AdlanKalidi.com
1. The above graphic representation gives a better understanding of the seating arrangement of the coaches. For the new ETS train, most coaches have 14/15 rows except for Coach C which is the dining coach and Coach D (with a disabled toilet) has less rows (10 rows). So do allow for this when booking your seats.
The odd thing is that when booking on line, the coach layout for the coaches still shows 19 rows, with rows 15/16 to 19 indicated as occupied.
Note: For ETS individual coaches seating plan, please click below:
    - ETS 91 Class Seating Plan.
    - ETS 93 Class Seating Plan.


2. Good positions are the front rows (1 & 2), rear rows (14 & 15) and in between opposing facing rows (7 & 8 and 8&9) . This gives generous space to put a total of twelve bicycles, more can be put in if squeezed tight but out of courtesy, space should be left for other passengers' luggage. So when travelling in a large group, it's best to spread out the group to different coaches. The corridor in front of the toilets in between the coaches are good locations to place bicycles too. Store your bicycles there but ensure that it does not obstruct access.



3. The best seating location is at Coach D, Seats 14C & 14D. In front of this is a niche for wheelchairs and with a handrail. Bikes can be stored there and secured to the railing with a bungee cord (... for details of securing with the bungee cord, see Securing The Brompton blog).


4. The next best location is at Coach D, Seats 10A & 10D which face the door. Here is also a position for wheelchairs with a railing to secure the bikes.
NOTE: Please only use these four positions when there are no disabled persons on board; should they come on board later, do give way for them.


5. Coaches have half the seats facing forward and the other half facing backwards. In between the centre seats is a comfortable space to put bicycles, two on each side giving a total of four that can be stored there. For Coach A, B, E & F this is between rows 8 & 9; for Coach  C & D it is between rows 7 & 8.


6. At some coaches, there are discussion style seating; with four seats, two facing each other. Behind is a niche that can fit bicycles too.


7. With handrails on one side, the corridors in front of the toilets are also suitable.


Our folded bike at the corridor, secured to the railing with bungee cords. It will be good to lock the bikes to the railing too.


At each coach, in front of Seats 2C & 2D are luggage racks, it is possible to put bikes at the floor level here; but I would advise against these as other passengers will put their large luggage bags here and it would be a tight squeeze.


On both side of the coaches are over-head racks; some have tried to put their bikes there but I would advised against it as I have seen bikes stored there toppling and falling down.


THE NEW ETS TRAIN ROUTES & FARES


Below are the ETS timetables and fares effective 18th January 2016. For updates for KTM latest timetable, click here.


In summary, the ETS routes are:

1. KL Sentral to Ipoh
2. KL Sentral to Butterworth
3. Ipoh to Padang Besar
4. Gemas to Padang Besar
5. Gemas to Butterworth
6. Butterworth to Ipoh

There are feeder local trains that feeds local traffic to the ETS, for this look under the FEEDER TRAINS SECTIONS & BUSES section further below.




The North-bound time-table, green indicates first station and departure time; red the last station and arrival time.
(for a larger view click on the photo)


The South-bound time-table, green indicates first station and departure time; red the last station and arrival time.
(for a larger view click on the photo)


The KL Sentral to Ipoh route train fares. Purple is adult fare and blue is children's fare.
(for a larger view click on the photo)


The KL Sentral to Padang Besar route train fares. Purple is adult fare and blue is children's fare.
(for a larger view click on the photo)


The Gemas to Padang Besar route train fares. Purple is adult fare and blue is children's fare.
(for a larger view click on the photo)


FEEDER TRAINS & BUSES 
Several train lines and bus services serves to feed local routes to the ETS.



1. KTM Commuter services provide rail services in the Klang Valley and a Northern sector also. Below are the routes & fares for these commuter trains (for updates please visit KTM Commuter page):


1(a). The KTM Commuter Klang Valley Train Routes & Fares.

 There are two lines; The North-bound serves Tanjung Malim to Port Klang while the South-bound serves Batu Caves to Gemas. There is a need to change trains at Rawang & Seremban respectively.


The Klang Valley Commuter train cash fares (For a clearer PDF copy of this cash fare table, click here). (For a larger view click on the photo)
Purchasing tickets with pre-paid Touch n' Go cards are cheaper; click here for a PDF copy of Touch n' Go fares).


1(b) KTM Commuter Northern Sector Shuttle Train Routes & Fares

The KTM Commuter Northern Sector Shuttle Train route.
There are three routes: Butterworth to Padang Besar, Butterworth to Gurun and Butterworth to Kamunting.


The KTM Commuter Northern Sector Shuttle Train time-table for the Butterworth to Kamunting route.


The KTM Commuter Northern Sector Shuttle Train time-table for the Butterworth to Padang Besar and the Butterworth to Gurun routes. Not the pink columns applies only to Sundays & public holidays.


KTM Commuter Northern Sector Shuttle Train Fare Table.


2. MYrapid operates bus routes, monorial and light rail transit lines for Kuala Lumpur and it's outskirts.

a. The Monorail Train serves a loop from KL Sentral to Titiwangsa
    UPDATE 17-Mar-2016: Based on feedback from friends - take note that the monorail services does not allow bicycles, even if bagged, into their trains.
b. The LRT line runs from Kelana Jaya to Gombak and the LRT line that runs from Sentul Timur to Ampang / Kinrara BK5.

3. Trains from Padang Besar to Hat Yai.
The following are trains that run this route:
a. KTM train #20, Padang Besar to Hat Yai - 1020hrs to 1120hrs, fare is Rm11-00.
b. a. KTM train #21, Hat Yai to Padang Besar - 1600hrs to 1800hrs, fare is Rm13-00.
c. The Padang Besar to Hat Yai shuttle train:
The fare is 80 Bahts and tickets can be purchased at either station on the day of travel.
    Only two trains per day; for other times it one can take the vans that runs between Padang Besar and Hat Yai.


4. Gemas To Johor Bharu Shuttle Train.
Pending the completion of the Southern section of electrified double-track railway, presently the ETS only reaches till Gemas. There is a commuter shuttle train that runs from Gemas to Johor Bharu; below are the train timetables.
The timetable for the Gemas to Johor Bharu shuttle train:

The timetable for the Johor Bharu to Gemas shuttle train:
On reaching Johor Bharu to go over to Singapore, use the Tebrau Shuttle which runs from JB Sentral to Woodlands, Singapore: see (5) below for the timetable of this train.


5. Tebrau Shuttle to Woodlands, Singapore.
KTM operates a normal-speed diesel train down to Singapore (click here to see the blog on this train). Note that this train does not terminate it's route at Woodlands, Singapore any more. Instead the train ends at JB Sentral. A new service, the Tebrau Shuttle train runs from JB Sentral  to Woodlands.

Tickets purchased from through KTM Intranet for the JB Sentral to Woodlands route is at RM5-00.


ETS TRAIN FACILITIES


The new coaches are air-conditioned, clean and comfortable. Half the seats face one direction while the other half faces the other. On both sides are overhead racks for light luggage; while to one end is a standing rack for large luggage. At the rack end, three sets (of four seats each) face each other with a fixed small table in between. On the other end are a pair of two seats with a fixed small table each. Other seats have fold-in tables.


The seats can recline up to 30-degrees and the arm rests can be folded up.


Power socket outlet points are provided below the seats, there is however only one point to be shared by each pair of seat. Being below the seats, the point are rather difficult to access.


Dining facilities are provided by a small cafeteria at one end of Coach C.


The menu is quite limited though. There is no restriction in bringing your own food in.


On one end of each coach are toilets; these are fairly clean. The windows in the toilets are locked. At Coach D is a toilet for the disabled.


At each end of every coach are TV monitors. This alternate between providing in-house movies and providing information. Announcement are made over the PA system five minutes before the arrival at the next station.


The train provides WiFi which has strong signal strength and was easy to connect to. However we found that it was virtually impossible to upload or download data. Perhaps KTM can improve on this.


IMPORTANT REGULATION TO NOTE
The particular regulation that pertains to taking your foldies onto the train is Section 6, Clause 30 (2). Part of this reproduced below:
Roughly translated it states : "Folding bicycles, prams, wheel-chairs are allowed onto the train. The railway personnel may disallow this if in their opinion there is inadequate space on the train to put these; or if bringing them onto the train will delay the train."



Let's look at some other points that will possibly ease travelling with your bike on the ETS.
1. COURTESY
- Always remember that we are not the only people travelling on the trains.
- Try not to be a nuisance to other travellers by being quiet as some may be taking a snooze.
Do not obstruct the aisle of the train. If this is not possible, give way to other passengers when needed.
- Be courteous with the train staff whether it be the station-master or a porter, remember that they are just doing their job. Rudeness will get one nowhere and there is no point arguing unnecessarily. 

2. Try to be as knowledgeable of train regulations as possible. Click here for the link to the rules & regulations posted by KTM. This link may not work as their posting is updated regularly, alternatively go to KTM's Home Page and at the top click on "Terms & Conditions". From the pull down menu select "Syarat-syarat Pengankutan Penumpang".

3. Bag your bikes.
It is a regulation to bag your bikes your bikes. Although sometimes during off-peak period bikes may be allowed onto trains without bagging, do not take the risk; bring your bike bags along just in case.

4. Book your ticket early, especially during holiday or festive seasons, BUT bear in mind that tickets can only be booked earliest 30 days prior to the travel date. For on-line booking go to KTM website - https://intranet.ktmb.com.my; one need to register as a member first.

5. If travelling in a large group, it could be a good idea to spread out your seating to several coaches so as not to cause obstruction to other passengers.

6. Announcements will be made just prior to reaching a station. This will be a good time to start un-strapping your bikes and prepare to disembark as the train stops for only a short while.

7. Depending on the direction of travel, one may disembark from the train onto a platform away from the exit point of the station. There are pedestrian bridges spanning above the railway tracks to connect over to the exit gates.
At most large stations there are lifts going up to the pedestrian bridges. Take advantage of these so as to avoid carrying your bikes up and down the staircases.


Ipoh Railway Station
I do encourage travelling by KTM's ETS Intercity train as part of a cyclo-adventure. One can just pop off at any of the scheduled transit stops and start riding; and then take the train back from another station. Or stay overnight to explore nearby areas and return home the next day.
Whichever the case is RIDE WELL & RIDE SAFE; enjoy yourselves.
Should you have similar experience with travelling via the ETS, and have some tips to give do feel free to comment and let us know.


The following are useful web-sites with regards to travelling by train:
1. Railtravelstation.com - this site gives very comprehensive information on KTM's services.
2. Wikipedia on Keretapi Tanah Melayu - this gives some useful information on the history of the railway, some routes, rolling stock, etc.
3. KTM E-ticketing - for purchasing tickets on line. Note: you will have to register as a member, registration is free. This DOES NOT include the commuter trains.
    - Some cyclists seem to have difficulty booking tickets through this site; alternatively one can book train tickets through the following booking sites (although some complained that the tickets booked through this sites cost more, do give your feedback):
    - http://www.easybook.com/en-my/train.
    - http://www.busonlineticket.com/booking/ktm-train-tickets.aspx
4. Official Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Website - the official site with links to the various services offered by the railway and more importantly their latest announcements.
5. Link to Train36.com - a site that provides info on rail travel in Malaysian, Singapore & Thailand.
6. KTM ETS Intercity Train Timetable & Fares  - this is a link for the ETS time-table & fares.
7. KTM Komuter - link to the KTM Commuter web-site.
8. MyRapid.com - site that provides Kuala Lumpur Monorail and bus services for some Malaysian towns.
9. Klang Valley Transit Map map showing the railway lines servicing the Klang Valley and the various stations en-route. This include the ERL, the line from Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA) airport.
10. Express Rail Service (ERL) - Link to the express rail service from KL Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA & KLIA2)
11. Touch n' Go Card - Link to this debit card that can be used for transit.


UPDATES!
I will try to update on the latest changes in policies, should you have any updates/news to share, please share by posting comments below OR write to me on these changes.

UPDATE 10-May-2017:
In a nice reversal of their policy, KTM has allowed bagged foldies on the ETS without additional charges. BUT do remember to bag your bikes otherwise there will be a charge of RM10 for each 150km of the train journey.

UPDATE 10-May-2017:
KTM has announce that bicycles on any kind (including foldies) are not allowed on the 
Commuter Northern Sector Shuttle Train route from Butterworth to Padang Besar and vice versa. This is due to high traffic along this sector.


MAJOR UPDATE 29-Jun-2016:
KTM has quietly through their FAQ section changed their policy on bringing foldies onto the ETS and the regular inter-city train services. These changes which would make it costly and difficult for impromptu bringing of bikes onto the trains are:
- Tickets cannot be bought on line through the KTM Intranet link. Instead, users will have to apply via email or an application letter (no later than 14 days prior to the travel date) to one of the following marketing personnel: Marketing manager harina@ktmb.com.my,  marketing executives haslini@ktmb.com.my & cjariah@ktmb.com.my or reservation assistant shikim@ktmb.com.my. The marketing section other contacts are Enquiries: +603-2279 8852 and Fax: +603-2279 8850 Pertanyaan.
- Bikes (either folded or dismantle-able) are to weigh no more than 15kg and should be bagged.
- Only twelve bikes are allowed be train and on top of that only two bikes per coach.
- Charges will be levied per bike at RM10/- per 150km of train journey or part thereof.
- KTM will not be responsible for any damage or lost of the bicycles.
This time and cost restrictions are indeed moves that will discourage bikers from using the KTM's train for their travels. In fact it could be easier to book airline tickets or even cheaper to travel by air. For those travelling to major cities an alternative (an probably cheaper and faster way) would be to travel by Malindo Air which allows 15kg luggage inclusive of foldies.


UPDATE 17-Mar-2016: Some friends have informed that they have taken their full sized bicycles into the trains. The advice on this is to bag the bike; if necessary to take out the wheels in order to fit into the bag, and store the bike at a position that does not obstruct access. This is good news, and we do hope that KTM will make this their official position.

UPDATE July 2016: Looks like it won't be so convenient to travel with our bikes on the trains; KTM now charges for bringing bicycles onto the ETS Trains based on distance travelled. And there will be limitations on number of foldies allowed per service, this applies for the regular intercity trains too. (Update informed by reader Mika Yap).
Conditions:
1.Total of 12 foldies (or normal bikes that can be dis-assembled) per service.
2. Two bagged bicycles per coach.
3. Ticket reservations is through application via e-mail to KTM's Marketing Section no later than 14 days before the date of travel.


"Fare" for the bicycles are RM10 for each 150km of the train journey.


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