Jun 28, 2009

My First and Last Trip on the Tebrau Shuttle Train

People seek thrill in Johor Bahru differently. For some, it is the naughty massage; for others it is the cheap haircut. For me, it is the experience of taking a 'joy-ride' across the causeway by KTM train.

Tebrau Shuttle, plying Kluang - Singapore - Kluang, was introduced on Feb 1, 2009 to "ease the link up of daily commuters from Singapore to the southern part of Malaysia and vice versa". To me, the highlight was the new stop at Danga City Mall (DCM) along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, operational since Jan 5, 2009. It was the classic win-win situation - more people would visit the mall with the added comfort and convenience of a train and the train operator would see more business due to increased ticket sales. In fact, the usually low-profile Malaysian train service and ulu shopping centre basked in the limelight of our local papers when the station - a halt - was completed. See reports in Straits Times (here) and The New Paper (here and here).

Finally on May 3, I gave in to temptation and visited the naughty bought a ticket to DCM.

Danga City Mall HaltDanga City Mall Halt
Left: Danga City Mall Halt.
Right: The "Station" platform. There is no station, only a sheltered platform. A staircase and gangway lead to the mall.

Promotion Tickets
Promotion ticket to Danga City Mall - SGD 3/RM 3 one way.

At SGD 3.00, the promotion ticket did not burn a hole in my pocket. The ticket was bought on the day itself at Tanjong Pagar. The return ticket was bought at DCM. I think the Singapore and Malaysian transport operators have a 'tit-for-tat' agreement on their tickets. I first learnt that from taking the buses plying Johore Bahru and Singapore. The practice must be so ingrained that KTMB decided to price both tickets equally in different denomination. So the return ticket set me back by SGD 1.25.

Teh Tarik29116 Sepetir
Left: Enjoying my teh-tarik on the station platform.
Right: Tebrau Shuttle hauled by 29116 Sepetir.

Departure was set at 0830 but I got the timing wrong thinking it was earlier. I managed to savour a cup of teh-tarik while waiting for my train, unaware it was already at the station but hidden from my sight. Tebrau Shuttle's locomotive that day was 29116 Sepetir. We met her before in the quiz.

My trip opened up a whole new way of entering Malaysia - the kind with an unprocessed passport and no white immigration card. You can read about that in my 'Escape to Malaysia' entry. Oh boy, did I mention there was no security check on luggage also?

Link to YouTube video. My train leaving Tanjong Pagar Station with Ekspres Senandung Malam opposite. Due to the single-tracking in Singapore, Tebrau Shuttle has to wait for SM to arrive before she could proceed. Note the long consist of SM, even longer than the station platform!

The train chugged along the track to Woodlands CIQ. She did not stop along the way, rather all the vehicles stopped for her at the railway crossings (yg told me every now and then residents have to put up with this inconvenience). I was like a VIP chauffeured from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands. I'm not sure whether our President or Prime Minister's motorcade need to stop at traffic junctions, but I suppose they are required to pay ERP because of the In-Vehicle Unit.

Link to YouTube video. Evidence of train beating traffic lights between Choa Chu Kang and Stagmont Ring (only because the light is in the train's favour)

The only stop was at Woodlands CIQ (Customs, Immigraton, Quarantine). Passengers were to disembark to have their passport out-processed by our immigration officers. Strangely the outgoing train was checked, for reasons I'm not sure. News of Mas Selamat's capture broke out few days later. Was it Mas Selamat or the latest escape from Whitley Detention Centre, or was it just normal routine to check outgoing trains?

Layout of Woodlands CIQ Complex (my impression). Because the KTM railway is single-tracked in Singapore, the incoming and outgoing trains use the same platform. If you hate queuing (or in a rush to answer nature's call), take the front coach for outgoing train and back coach for incoming train. The exit is more for incoming train passengers who choose to disembark at the CIQ instead of Tanjong Pagar. Bus services are readily available outside. I took that option when I was back and boarded a bus to Woodlands Interchange.

Health Alert Notice
The Health Alert Notice (updated 30 April 2009) in our 4 main languages dished out to incoming passengers (tucked into their passport). At that time, it was called human swine influenza A (H1N1).

At Johor Bahru Station, the train stopped "briefly" before resuming its journey to DCM a stone's throw away. Tebrau Shuttle picked up passengers bound for Kluang and waited for an incoming train to arrive before she could proceed. The train schedule estimated the stop to be around 15 minutes.

Link to YouTube video. An incoming train at Johor Bahru Station. Once again because of single-tracking at the Johor Bahru stretch, she has to arrive before Tebrau Shuttle could proceed. It is all a give-and-take game.

Danga City Mall Halt29116 Sepetir at Danga City Mall
Left: My destination Danga City Mall.
Right: 29116 Sepetir at DCM Halt. She would resume her journey to Kluang.

When I left 29116 Sepetir for the mall, I thought she was lost for good. Little did I know that on my return journey to Singapore she would once again render her service. Good o' rattlesnake!

Link to YouTube video. The return of 29116 Sepetir! Quite a surprise to see her again after a brief three hours separation.

Overall I had a good experience on the Tebrau Shuttle 'joy-ride'. At SGD 3.00, the price was unbeatable. Try to beat that with those in amusement fairs where you have to pay twice - for the entrance fee (around $2) and the ride. You have to join the standing queue for popular rides and the ride is often shorter than the wait. Of course you are still stuck on this little red dot.

Sadly the Tebrau Shuttle 'joy-ride' was my first and last one. Tebrau Shuttle plying Singapore-Kluang was terminated from May 19. The reason, I suspect, due to low demand of travelling or low ridership in non-business speak. From what I heard, the volume was a bit pathetic on weekdays.


Victor said...

You mean there's only one track for both incoming and outgoing trains? Isn't that a very dangerous situation?

Icemoon said...

Victor, I remember your Kranji railway crossing photo shows only one track. :P

The train movements are coordinated. The train cannot get past a station unless they have a "token".

alternatve said...

I don't think the traffic over the causeway warrants the opening of a second track. Your trip does sound intriguing, I need to take the train from the tanjong pagar station once before it's all gone.


Icemoon said...

> I need to take the train from the tanjong pagar station once before it's all gone.

I don't think Malaysia is ready to give up their land in Singapore. Let's see how the POA (Points of Agreement) turn out.

Hey, can I tag along for your trip? Heehee.

Azmee Mohamed said...


Icemoon, Azmee here.

Seems like you have a fun trip via KTM. I love the rattle snake sounds made by Dalian. Hehehe, sadly, the train service has been terminated.

Ahhh, i think reason why no double tracking is made here, due to the number of trains entering Singapore.. Not every time there's one cement liner, and landbridge train, then a bricks train coming in. Not so busy.

Hehe, token system is one of the best. I'd like to bring you to Bukit Timah station, and you'll see how it works. Provided if my uncle is working there la.. hahaha

Icemoon said...

Azmee, your unker is the plump station master ah. Keep on seeing him man, twice already. Yay, BT Station, can we slip into a DN train and hitch a ride to TP Station? lol

Azmee Mohamed said...

Hahaha, got two plump one leh.

The one, bearing the name, "Shamsul Bahri" or "Shamsul" is my "uncle".

The other one is "Abd. Ghani". Hehehe, if you're free, and the time is right, we shall hit BT station.

If "Shamsul" is working, and returning back home at 3pm, we can wait with him, if he allows, to take the down train to Tanjung Pagar (Ekspres Sinaran Pagi 5Dn)

ad said...

Take me on a choo choo ride!

ordinary guy said...

Very interesting journalistic approach in presenting your post with good images too. Btw, is there somewhere I can find out more about the train departures of SIN-DCM and return trip? A simple day trip could be an interesting outing.

Icemoon said...

Hi Gerald, a pity their website doesn't have the SIN-DCM timing because the ticket is not available online.

The SIN-DCM timing should be (after reshuffling of services):

0740 (SGD 3.00)
1400 (SGD 6.00)
1800 (SGD 3.00)

The 0740 train is kinda special because it is two trains in one. They couple two trains which will break up after the causeway.