Where to stay

In august 1992 the peninsular Malaysian Railway System or Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) was privatized and became the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad or KTMB.Their corporate mission statement declared: "We strive to provide excellent rail and related : transport services in Malaysia, utilizing our resources to optimize financial performance whilst meeting stakeholder expectations.

Notwithstanding the tendency to hyperbole in any mission statement, the KTMB is an economical and comfortable way to travel round the peninsula Privatization has pumped much needed investment into the system which, in 1981 the New straits Times was predicting would "collapse into one mass neap of worthless metal"

There are two main lines. One runs up the west coast from Singapore, through KL, Ipoh and Butterworth, connecting with Thai railways at Padang Besar (where a half of the extra-long platform is managed by Malaysian officials and the other half by Thais) and from there continues to Hat Yai in Southern Thailand and north to Bangkok. The other line branches off from the west coast line at Gemas (halfway between KL and Singapore) and heads northeast to Kota Bahru. From Kota Bahru it is possible to take buses/taxis to Rantau Panjang/Sungai Golok for connection with Thai railways. The express service (Ekspres Rakyat or Ekspres Sinaran) only stops at major towns; the regular service stops at every station but is slightly cheaper. All first and second class coaches have sleeping berths on overnight trains and all classes have a/c Reservations can be made for both classes. Visitors should note that the a/c on Malaysian trains is very cold. First and second class carriages are equipped with video In East Malaysia there is only one railway line, running from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom, via Beaufort.

Rail passes for 10 and 30 days are available to all foreign visitors, except those from Singapore, for every class and there are no restrictions other than seat availability Passes are available from railway stations in Singapore, KL, Johor Bantu, Butterworth. Padang Besar, Rantau Panjang, Wakaf Bahru (Kota Bahru). A 30 day pass in 1999 cost USS120 (adult), US$60 (child);and a 10 day pass, US$55 (adult), US$28 (child).Students with a valid ID card (eg ISIC) can also buy an ISSA Explorer Pass which provider unlimited second class travel for seven days (US538), 14 days (USS50) or 21 days, (US560) on KTM railway services in Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. There are also concessions offered (including for foreigners) to family groups (4 people or more),25%;groups of 10 or more, 25%;handicapped persons,50%;and senior citizen(65 years+), 50%. If travelling overnight, berth charges are RM70 (lower a/c), RM50 (upper a/c) for deluxe; and RM14 power a/c), RM11.50 (upper a/c) for second class There are additional charges for international express services.

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