Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bringing Folding Bikes Onto Malaysian Commuter Trains

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It's always great to have some bike-packing fun by travelling to far away places with our foldies in our car and zooming to the destination to start cycling.
It's even greater to travel by trains with our bicycles, going to even further places and save the hassle of driving. We had done several bike-packing trips by train. The first of which was on a World Car-free Day in 2012, an experience of train & ferry bike-packing from Kuala Lumpur to Pulau Ketam that opened my eyes to the many possibilities of train travel with our bikes (... see World Car-free Day 2012 blog). We did it again when we went to the scenic Sungai Chiling (... see Sg. Chiling blog).

NOTE: 1. This blog covers only travelling by the KTM Commuter trains that serves the Klang Valley and slightly beyond to Tanjung Malim & Sungai Gadut. KTM has extended their route, see update below.
2. Click here to see the blog for travelling by KTM ETS Intercity Trains, this is the electric train line that connects Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh.
3. Click here to see the blog for travelling by KTM Regular Intercity Trains, this is the diesel engine train that serves Peninsular Malaysia down to Singapore and up to Haatyai, Thailand.

KTM officially launched their Ride n Ride Programme with guidelines for bringing foldies AND FULL SIZED BIKES onto the Commuter trains, for details click here.
NOTE: Folding bikes are allowed onto Commuter trains at all times, a RM2 fare is charged per bike.
Non-folding bikes are allowed during weekends and public holidays onto the first and last coach, 
 a RM2 fare is charged per bike.

(For the revised schedules, click here)
(For the fares & subsidies, click here)
(For a PDF file of the fare table, click here)
(For a PDF file of the fare table for the Northern Sector, click here)
KTM's Revised route and stations stops (Click here to view/download PDF file)
1. As of 15th December 2015 KTM has changed their routes, this is on a trial basis and may be further revised. The new routes are:
 a. Port Klang to Rawang
b. Rawang to Tanjung Malim
c. Batu Caves to Seremban
d. Seremban to Tampin (Pulau Sebang) to Gemas
2. Please note that the weekdays and weekends schedules are differtent
3. There is a need to change trains at Rawang and Seremban stations.
4. For the moment there is only one train a day from Seremban to Gemas, and two trains a day from Gemas to Seremban.

Un-bagged bikes looking forlorn as not allowed onto train without being bagged.
However, a couple of incidents regarding bike-train travel got me thinking about the problems of bringing our bikes onto trains.
The first was when a few of us tried to bring our bikes onto the KTM Komuter at Port Klang Station. As we had not brought our bike bags along, we were denied entry to board even after having purchased tickets.
The second was even more critical as almost twenty bikers were not allowed onto the train with their bikes at Klang Station even though the bikes were bagged. The reason given by the station-master was that bikes are not allowed onto the train during peak hours. He wanted to charge RM20/- per bike to allow them onto the train, this was almost ten times the train fare for passengers!
These incidents will always dampen an otherwise happy trip.
For note the peak period is 6:00 to 9:00 am and 4:00 to 8:00 pm on weekdays.

For cyclists who would like to use the Commuter Trains with their bikes, the following maps will be useful:

The Klang Valley Rail Transit Map
For a PDF copy of this map click here.

The KTM Komuter Route Map
Please note that KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu, i.e. Malayan Railway) Komuter runs two lines in the Klang Valley. Other operators run other lines and for a better understanding of how these services connects it is better to have a look at the Klang Valley Rail Transit Map.

Let's look at some points that will possibly ease travelling with your bike on trains:
- 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".

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.Try to travel during off-peak period. This will avoid having to jostle with the crowd while boarding and also there will be more room on the train.
Note: KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) have a notice board that posted this notice regarding folding bikes in Kommuter trains. It states that folding bikes are allowed onto trains as long as no part of the journey is during peak period (which is 6:00 to 9:00 am and 4:00 to 8:00 pm on weekdays).
*This was when a group of my friends faced a stern & rude station-master who refuse to let them board unless they pay RM20/- per bike. Fortunately, a member of the group politely pointed out that it was a Sunday and thus not peak period and the station-master relented sheepishly.

5. If travelling in a large group, it could be a good idea not to enter the railway station all at one time. Go in perhaps two or three at a time. Station personnel seems to be jittery about a large group of bikers entering simultaneously, and tend to stop and ask questions.

5. Try to occupy a corner to yourselves, this will give some privacy and lessen obstruction to other passengers.

6. Secure your bikes or hold on to them so that they do not swing or topple over, and cause a nuisance.
Many of us use a gizmo which we call a bungee cord (it's an elastic cord) to secure our bikes to the vertical posts of the train (... see Bungee Cord blog).
7. Should you not be allowed onto the KTM Komuter train at a station, do not despair. Try riding to the next station, perhaps you will be allowed there as it is up to the respective staff to make the call. In the worst situation, you can always ride all the way back or send an SOS to a friend to pick you up. Or wait for off peak time, i.e. cycle around some more!

8. One can use the Touch n' Go debit cards for travel by KTM Komuter train, by swiping the cards at the turnstile gates at entry and exit. I, myself, personally rather buy the tickets as a friend had a bad experience of having more than the required fare deducted.

9. I advise NOT to use the TBS-Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (Southern Transportation Terminal Hub) as a kick-off point for your train-bike packing trips. This terminal is more a bus transportation hub. The Komuter Train Station IS NOT within the hub, getting from this hub to the "nearby" Bandar Tasik Selatan Komuter Station would require carrying your bike up two flight of stairs, across three pedestrian bridges and the down another flight or two of stairs. And there are no toilets at the railway station!
We faced this during a bike-packing trip to Malacca (... see Peranakan Bike-packers blog).

Quaint houses fronting the Rasa Railway Station.
Do travel by train and make it a part of your biking adventure. Who know's, the train may take you through and to nice rustic places.

I will be going on a couple of bike-packing trips that include rail travel beyond the Klang Valley soon and will let you all know if I learn anything new.
Should you have any observations while travelling on the train with your bikes do feel free to share here.

The following are useful web-sites with regards to travelling by train:
1. Wikipedia on Keretapi Tanah Melayu - this gives some useful information on the history of the railway, some routes, rolling stock, etc.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. KTM ETS Intercity Train Timetable - schedule showing time of departure and arrival of the ETS trains at respective stations.
5. KTM North-South Route Timetable - Timetable for normal trains from Hatyai in Thailand to Woodlands in Singapore by the normal & express trains.
7. KTM Train Fare for South Line - i.e. from Sentral to Singapore.
8. KTM East-West Route Timetable - Timetable for trains travelling along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia; from Tumpat in Kelantan to Woodlands in Singapore.
NOTE: for those travelling from the West Coast to the East Coast, there would be a necessity to change trains at the Gemas Station.
9. KTM Train Fare for East Line - i.e. from Sentral to Tumpat, Kelantan.
10. Klang Valley Transit Map - a PDF map showing the eight 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.
11. KTM Komuter - for trains from Sentral up to Rawang in the north and Sungai Gadut in the south. With links for route, timetable and fares.
12. KTM Komuter Time-table - Times of train arriving at various station along the lines.
13. KTM Komuter Fare Schedule - a PDF chart showing the fares between the various stations.
14. Express Rail Service (ERL) - Link to the express rail service from Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA & KLIA2)
15. Touch n' Go Card - Link to this debit card that can be used for transit.

You may also like :

Brompton Accessories #7 :
"Akslen" Two-bulb 10-Lux Headlights
A headlight that mounts onto the Brompton handlebar post snugly.

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