Electric Train Service (ETS Train)

Electric Train Service or ETS Train which operates from KL Sentral Station was something unexpected for me as I never knew that the Malaysian trains had been upgraded and so advanced since the heydays. This was one of the many things which I totally did out of curiosity during the Chinese New Year of 2011 here in Malaysia. Usually I would travel to Ipoh City via car every year but this time around, I opted to try the ETS instead. Having not much knowledge apart from the fact that a train will be a train, it totally gave me a different impression about our improving rail system here.

Asking around, not many people knew about this train service to Ipoh but eventually I checked the main website and got the information. Buying the ticket was as simple as buying candy. On the first day of Chinese New Year, I made my way to the KL Sentral Station at 1pm to get my ticket. Arriving here, I found it relatively easy to find the ETS counter which was located at the main entrance of the building. This is the entrance which faces the KL Hilton and Le Meridian Hotel. If you walk in the entrance, it is located all the way to your right. 

ETS Train at the KL Sentral Platform

There was no line so I pretty much walked straight up to the counter and asked for a ticket to Ipoh. Pleasant smiles welcomed me while the ticket cost a mere RM30 (US$10) for a one-way trip. Asking the ticket counter girl there were to board the train, she simply told me as I exit this place and turn right, take the first turn right at the hallway. From there, you will see a escalator and elevator that goes down two floors. I should wait around there till the boarding call. 

Fair enough I thought and looked at my time. It was only 1.10pm while the ETS Train to Ipoh would leave at 2.00pm. I had much time to kill so I took a walk around the station and got back at 1.40pm. By then a large group of travelers had been waiting there and once the barrier was opened, everyone made their way down to the train platform to the awaiting train.

Spacious and clean coaches

Tickets are numbered so there was no rush and looking at the train, I have to say it reminded me of the Shanghai trains I took last year. Very aerodynamic, sleek and modern.Upon getting into the coach, I was most impressed with the cleanliness and spacious layout. Seats looked very comfortable even before sitting on them. As for the timing, the train did not wait long and left in five minutes after two.

The toilets were very modern with auto doors on touching the panel while the insides were well thought off. Everything looked like the interior of a airplane bathroom except more spacious.

 LCD information screen on the train

After doing my rounds and taking my seat, I noticed the LCD TV display in front of me. A sleek 21 inch panel showing some cartoons while the information was integrated into the system informing passengers of the next station and also the speed of the train.

Hitting 150 km/h speed

I had doubts that the ETS could make it pass 130km/h therefore I sat and looked at the monitor constantly and to my surprise, at one stage, it managed to hit 150 km/h! That was indeed quite fast comparing the the normal trains. But again, the Shanghai commuter trains were easily hitting 230km/h so this was a good start for the rail industry here in Malaysia. At that speed, the train was smooth and not bumpy. Satisfied with the top speed, I made my way to the cafeteria coach to see what was available.

Coach cafeteria

A simple layout with an area to sit and view the passing scenery while they served a limited selection of pastries and buns. Hot and cold drinks were available at a reasonable price here. They also have train stewardesses moving around the coaches selling snacks and drinks for those who prefer to sit put. 

The ETS Train service is from Ipoh-Kuala Lumpur-Seremban for now and plans to expand have been laid out.  There is only a single class while there have been plans to add on business class seats. All coaches come with socket points for lap tops and other electrical item usage.

ETS Train Map

Overall I had a great experience taking the train to Ipoh for the Chinese New Year Holidays. Would I do this again? Yes as it was hassle free and only 2 hours. It would be fun to just take this train there for some good local food and Ipoh White Coffee and then head back to KL. Just for the fun of it. While for travelers and backpackers, this would be one of the methods to travel up north on route to Penang Island. My conclusion to this ride - for RM30, it's a good deal, safe and fast journey using the Electric Train Service or ETS Train.