Electric Train Service (ETS) Malaysia review

I am back, ladies! (Okay, technically I’ve been back since my list of reasons why you should travel by train) After having the time of my life on my “backpacking” trip with my friends, I finally half-won the battle against my jet-lag to curl up in bed and write this post. It’s hard to believe that just a month ago I was dwelling on my lack of vacations in my prime time – I ended up having two amazing ones to write home about, back to back no less! Oh, notice the quotation marks? It became apparent after arriving at our apartment that it wasn’t the destitute trip I thought it would be, thereby snatching away my prior privilege of calling myself a true backpacker. LOL!

So while I intended this to be an informative review on the ETS, it also marks the beginning of the story of the two wonderful experiences that I’d love to share with you :) Remember my 3-part review on the Bag of Love unzipping party? Reminiscent of that, consider this to be alternatively titled –

Part 1: My Journey via ETS to the Lost World of Tambun, Ipoh

Firstly, ETS stands for Electric Train Service. This intercity service is a subsidiary of KTM Berhad. ETA: ETS is now wholly managed by SBU Intercity. I’ll be frank, I’ve never heard of the ETS before, but then again the last time I took the train was in 2008 when I was studying in Penang, and ETS was introduced end of 2010.

The night before the journey, I barely slept. My parents were packing for their cruise at the 11th hour because of miscommunication – am/pm mixup, they didn’t know their flight was at 10 in the morning! We stayed up together, and I only had a solid hour of sleep before leaping out of bed. Bleary eyed and slightly groggy, we pushed of to KL Sentral together :)

On the minimalist platform – no fuss, no frills
The train to Ipoh!

The destination spelled out clearly lest you get on the wrong train and end up at the opposite end of the country! FYI, the ETS can take you Northbound or Southbound. The Southbound train will get you to Seremban.What with being posted to Seremban, it would be so easy for me to get home every day. Score!.

Every day? Hahaha ETA: ETS informed me that they do not provide service to Seremban for now :(

The group of 30 bloggers making their way into the train

Can you spot me in the picture? Well, no. LOL! That would be because I arrived just in the nick of time T_T
You can, however, take a moment to lust after Ami’s amazing shawl. Pretty!

Lost World of Tambun Blogger Getaway group photo before taking the train

Now can you spot this latecomer’s face? I’m under the arc of Mahamahu‘s manmade peace antlers. Haha. I was anxious because I left my camera in the car! Thank goodness my mom raced to pass it in time, phew.

The view inside ETS

You can see there’s an overhead compartment/deck to stow away your luggage so you can conserve all the leg room, which by the way is a comfortable amount of space 😉 There’s also handles on either side of the aisle for you to grip, handy for moving about once the train speeds off. I mean if you’re like me, you might be liable to grab a stranger’s head to steady yourself. Uhuh, yep. That has happened before.

ETS Route Map

ETS route map from KL Sentral to Ipoh

Consult the picture above you’re curious to see the possible stops from KL Sentral to Ipoh (the final destination). 12 stops in between, that’s quite a lot. But we made few stops because we were on the Gold Class coach. Hooray!

You can also consult the route map for interchanges like KTM Komuter, LRT, KL Monorail and Express Rail Link (ERL). It’s definitely an option for someone in Ipoh to catch their plane in KLIA by taking the ETS and changing rails.

Warm Welcome

Being personally welcomed and sent off was a lovely gesture on ETS’s part. He also hinted at the possibility of taking us all the way to Thailand, which of course got us all revved up! Would love that, sir! LOL. I know, I seemed distracted and was busy taking pictures of the screen in front of me. That’s Mr Bean playing while we waited to start moving (isn’t Mr Bean on in all the waiting rooms? I suppose it’s the humor that you can appreciate even when you can’t listen to it.)

ETS Facilities

FYI, the screen also plays clips of the amenities that ETS provides, down to the use of their toilet! ie., how to let yourself into the toilet, what it looks like, how to flush… It also displayed the time and the speed at which the train is moving (it fluctuates). If I recall correctly, the train moves at about 140km/h.

And with that, we pushed off at the exact scheduled departure time, 8:05 on the dot! Those traveling via public transport can surely appreciate this punctuality.

The ETS GOLD train ticket

The fare was free as our journey to and fro was fully sponsored by ETS. FYI, the fare from KL Sentral to Ipoh via Gold Coach is RM35. Isn’t that cheap?

Also, notice the assigned seats.

Shazwani Hamid & I with our #butterflymsia travel kit

I was paired with this pretty lass on the ride to Ipoh, and we were soon trading life stories and running through every emotion while we’re at it. Girls 😛 Who says we can’t bond inside a high-speed vehicle?

Stewardess checking our tickets

There was a stewardess decked in yellow on the train who came by sometime later to check our tickets, much like what a bus conductor does. She was pleasant and friendly.

You can also see that half the coach’s seats are facing forwards while the other half are seated backwards, and there were trays too although meals weren’t provided. I know some people feel ill when they travel backwards, but I do find it quite refreshing. If it bothers you, perhaps you should let them know so you can be assigned to the front-facing seats if they’re still available?

You’ll be happy to know that they have power sockets installed under your seat so you can power up your laptop, or more importantly charge your phone! With how much our phones are used, it’s always running out of juice. You’d want it to be powered up when you step out of the train, arriving at your destination city. There’s one per twin seat, but apparently you can opt for a multiple socket adapter – just make a request to the steward/stewardess attending you :)

Food & beverage bar in ETS

For those in a constant state of hunger, be sure to head to the food & beverage bar in coach C! I’m not sure of their full selection, but you can see there’s at least nasi lemak and nasi goreng, both of which they will reheat for you. There’s also hot 3-in-1 faves like Milo and Nescafe. You can choose to eat facing the scenery in the area provided, or grab the food and drinks to enjoy the food in your seat. I have to say, the bar is quite a pretty sight.

Ipoh KTM Station

At 10:35am, we arrived safe and sound at the Ipoh KTM Station – the journey took 2 hours 30 minutes. 

Since it was my first time at the Ipoh station, I had no idea how beautiful it would be.

And this is where the first part of the story ends :) Stay tuned for Part 2!

Some pictures of my Ipoh-KL journey (1:05PM – 3:35PM) :

The historic building was beautiful!
Monorel Cafe Ipoh Station
Monorel Cafe Ipoh Station
By the way, Farisha and I stopped by the Monorel Cafe for her to grab a quick bite. I assure you that will be the last time.

I saw Holo Ais on the menu (a hybrid of Horlicks and Milo) and decided to give it a go. The price displayed was RM4.00, but they charged me a higher price. I politely asked, “Isn’t the price displayed as RM4 only?” To which the cashier rudely replied in Malay, “That’s for hot drinks! RM4 is for hot drinks! You ordered cold, ice. Ice. Holo Ais. The price is different. You want RM4, you order it without ice. Now do you want it or not? Go sit down”

Shellshocked. I was fuming from being mouthed at when the menu clearly states the price for the cold drink (Holo Ais – Ice is cold, no?) I knew they were in the wrong but that’s where my fatal flaw comes in and buggers it up. In my head I’m victoriously marching to my own defense, standing for my right as a consumer to not be misled, mouthing off in return about how as a seller of food and beverages myself I find it absolutely shameful to encounter this behavior in a fellow seller, demanding a promise from them to serve their other customers better next time – but in real life, all I could do was let my lack of satisfaction show through my face, pay, accept my change with a thank you and walk away.

Ugh. I just hate confrontations that much!

Misleading price and rude service aside, the Holo Ais wasn’t even good. It was way too sweet – this from someone who drinks sweet drinks only and has built up quite a tolerance.

I had the twin seats to myself on the journey home, so you can guess what I did. What else but finish the millionth book I’m reading? LOL. I also:

  1. daydreamed
  2. took a power nap
  3. stared out the window at the scenery
  4. drafted a blog post
  5. ran through details of my trip to Europe
  6. started on a few chapters of a new book
  7. made sales on my makeup and clothes
  8. attended to queries to my handmade cards
  9. started and finished discussing a custom design with a customer, and
  10. watched the last half of The Bachelor

before the train came to a stop. A pretty productive 2.5 hours 😉 I guess this alone explains why I love trains so much!

Alright, let’s move on to more useful information:

ETS Schedule – Northbound and Southbound

Northbound ETS schedule
Southbound ETS schedule

How to Book ETS Tickets

Booking can be done 4 hours – 60 days in advance by phone or e-mail.

KTM Care Line: 1-300-88-5862 

E-mail: callcenter@ktmb.com.my

Expect a reply via e-mail within 3 working days with a booking ID, and you can pick the tickets up at the appointed date and time.

International? Call this number instead: +60322671200

How to Buy ETS Tickets

You can purchase the tickets at the station’s ETS ticket counter at Ipoh or KL, and any of the stops in between (Batu Gajah, Kampar, Tapah Road, Slim River, Sungkai, Behrang, Tanjung Malim, Kuala Kubu Bharu, Rawang, Sungai Buloh, Kepong Sentral, KL Old Railway Station)

In KL Sentral Station, the ticket counter is located at:
KTM Intercity Counter,
Level 2.

ETS Ticket Fare

Click on the picture to enlarge. 

ETS Concession Fare

  • Adult: nil
  • Children: 50% from adults’ travel fare.
  • Senior citizens: 50% from adults’ travel fare.
  • Government pensioner : 40% from adults’ travel fare.
  • Disabled (OKU): 50% from adults’ travel fare.
  • KTMB i-Card Student: 40% from adults’ travel fare.


I also got in touch to have some of questions answered, and this was their response:

1. When they book the ETS tickets (via email or phonecall), do they make any deposit/full payment first?
No, they don’t have to do any payment. Payment by cash only at the counter upon ticket collection.

2. I understand that they’ll be given a booking ID, and the time and place to pick up their ticket. Does the customer decide the date/time with the ETS? Is it a time period, ie from this date to this date, or a specific time?
Collection date will be given based on when they do the booking. For example : Booking date today for 01/12/2013. Deadline will be given on 29/10/2013 before 1700hrs.

3. Can you buy the ticket you book right before the train arrives?
Payment and collection must be done before deadline given and not on the travel date.

4. When you book the ETS ticket, can you choose your seats? ie, front/back facing seats
Yes, you can.

5. I’d also like to verify the stations where you can purchase the tickets – is it on all the stops along the route?
Yes, including Sungai Siput, Kuala Kangsar, Taiping, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Klang and Port Klang.

6. Does Platinum Class still exist?  
No, it doesn’t.

For further information and updates:
Twitter: @ETS_Train

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