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July 11, 2015

Ipoh-Padang Besar train service gets thumbs up

Regular direct train services from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar, Perlis will only materialise next year at the earliest as KTM Bhd (KTMB) is still grappling with a shortage of locomotives, even as it unveiled a new passenger service from here and Padang Besar via Butterworth yesterday.

The once-a-day service from Ipoh to Padang Besar relies on old train sets as KTMB awaits the Land Public Transport Commission’s (Spad) approval to use two new fully electric train sets bought from China.

At the announcement of the new northern service on Thursday, KTMB president Sarbini Tijan said more train sets would be added as they are made available to take advantage of the double track that stretches from Padang Besar to Gemas, Negri Sembilan.

As it stands, the new northern passenger service from Ipoh leaves at 5am, stops at Butterworth for 40 minutes, before arriving at Padang Besar at 9.15am, with the fare for an adult costing RM44 one way.

The return leg from Padang Besar starts at 2pm, and arrives at Ipoh at 6.50pm after stopping at Butterworth for an hour and 15 minutes.

The train stops at 24 stations between Ipoh and Padang Besar, including Kuala Kangsar, Taiping, Kamunting, Parit Buntar, Simpang Ampat, Bukit Mertajam, Sungai Petani, Alor Setar and Arau.

Despite the lack of connectivity to and from Kuala Lumpur, commuters are still giving the service the thumbs up.

Kent Tai Khem Sik, 24, a salesman from Butterworth who visits Ipoh frequently, praised the good value offered by the train compared to driving.

“The train ticket costs RM23 one way, which is cheaper,” said Tai.

Civil servant Mohd Zamzuri Suaib, 41, is interested in using the train to reach Thailand.

“Every few months, I would join a cycling expedition in southern Thailand, and with the train reaching Padang Besar, it will be really convenient.

“I usually catch a bus to Padang Besar, but I think the train is safer and more comfortable,” he said.

Wong Yow Koon, 81, said he would now consider visiting Perlis.

“I have never been to Perlis before, and I heard there is great food and nice places for shopping there. I will most probably board the train next week for a short break,” said the Ipoh dweller.

Engineer Idham Kadir, 26, was amazed at how comfortable it was upon reaching Butterworth from Ipoh.

“The carriage is so cozy and I had a good nap along the way. I find the ticket price reasonable too.”

 - The Star

new Electric Train Service, Ipoh to Padang Besar