The new ETS Train from KL Sentral to Padang Besar started operating from the 10th July 2015, replacing the old diesel Intercity day and night trains that used to operate on this route between Kuala Lumpur and the border with Thailand.
These new high-speed Electric train Services (ETS for short) can travel at speeds of up to 160 kilometres an hour, with 140 km/h the usual top speed while carrying passengers.
This new ETS train service between Kuala Lumpur and Padang Besar will take just five, to five and a half hours to take you from the capital of Malaysia, to the border with Thailand.
This cuts the older Intercity Express Trains travel time in half!
The old popular night train (the Langkawi Express), that used to travel from KL to Hat Yai, is now no longer operating and all KTM Malaysian Railways trains stop at the Malaysian side of the border at Padang Besar (note that both towns on either side of the border are called Padang Besar - Padang Besar in Thailand also has a much smaller train station).
If you want to travel from KL to Hat Yai, you will now have to change trains at the border and take one of the new Shuttle services from Padang Besar to Hat Yai (see below for more information).
New ETS Timetable valid from the 3rd of June 2018.
New KL Sentral to Padang Besar ETS Schedule from the 3rd of June 2018 (Jadual Perjalanan ETS Terbaru):
|Station||Departs KL Sentral||Arrives P. Besar||Operating Days|
Train numbers starting with EG are ETS Gold Services.
Train numbers starting with EP are ETS Platinum Service.
Please note: If you are planning to cross in to Thailand, do not take the train arriving at 00:49 - you will be stuck at the station all night as all the border crossings are closed!
Trains from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar have a varying amount of stops along the route, with the quickest trains being the Platinum services. Most trains go direct on the North - South railway line, but one train takes the branch line to Butterworth, making the journey quite a bit longer.
All Trains on this route now operate daily.
When you arrive at the border station at Padang Besar, you are still in Malaysia and will have to go through the immigration and customs checks at the station if you want to continue your journey by train in to Thailand.
Just follow the signs when you arrive at the station, first get your passport stamped out of Malaysia, then get stamped in to Thailand.
Immigration is only opened up shortly before a train is due to depart in to Thailand.
So if you get to Padang Besar well before one of the Shuttle Trains leaves to Hat Yai, you will have to wait around.
The same goes for the Thai Railways Ticket Office.
This only opens around an hour before the Shuttle trains depart.
The other option for passing through immigration is to go upstairs and take the pedestrian walkway / bridge over the railway tracks to get to the main land border crossing.
You can then walk (10 minutes) between both immigration areas, take a motorbike taxi, or get a taxi to Hat Yai from the other side of the walkway.
As many people will be using these services to get to the southern Thai city of Hat Yai, there are a few options available to you for your journey from Padang Besar Station.
The easiest option is to stay at the station and take one of the Shuttle Services to Hat Yai.
The journey takes just under an hour, and tickets are quite cheap, but there are only two services a day, so you may want to cross over at the main land border to take a local bus or minivan (see below).
There is another train that leaves for Hat Yai, the International Express to Bangkok.
However, due to the way fares are constructed in Thailand, it is very expensive for the short trip to Hat Yai, so best avoided unless you want to travel to places like Surat Thani, Chumphon, Hua Hin or Bangkok.
If you are on one of the trains from KL to Padang Besar that arrive well before the Shuttle to Hat Yai and do not want to wait at the station, just head upstairs to the canteen and you will see the bridge leading across the tracks.
You can have a wander around the town (on the Malaysian side), get something to eat or visit the currency exchange at one of the banks.
Or cross the border (the Malaysian immigration area is just a couple of minutes walk away from the train station).
Once you are stamped in to Thailand and come out of the immigration area to the main road, there is a small bus stop on the right (on the other side of the road).
From here there are regular local, non air-conditioned buses to Hat Yai city centre terminating at the Clock Tower, or get off at Hat Yai bus station for bus connections to all destinations in southern Thailand.
There is also a minivan service to Hat Yai bus station that leaves from Padang Besar, Thailand town centre.
It's about a 10 - 15 minute walk from the border exit (turn left - walk down the hill to the traffic lights - turn left again - then turn right by the row of banks (currency exchange / ATM's available if you need Thai money) - the minivan station is on the right hand side of the road.
You can also connect with the Shuttle trains to Hat Yai from Padang Besar Thailand Railway Station - you will see the station on your left as you cross the tracks if you walk in to town.
ETS Gold Fares for the whole trip from KL to Padang Besar are :
76 MYR for Adults - 42 MYR for Children.
ETS Platinum Services cost :
102 MYR for Adults - 55 MYR for Children.
You can buy your ETS train tickets at any Malaysia main railway station or you can book online.
Advance booking is a must for these trains and you should book as far in advance as you can as there are many periods during the year when all seats will be sold out.
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