There are plenty of options for one to travel south from Penang- by way of car or air but for a hassle-free journey down south, taking the new high-speed Electronic Train Service (ETS) may be a good option too. Started in July 2015, the train runs north to Padang Besar or south to Gemas (via Kuala Lumpur). For Penangites intend to travel south (KL-bound), there are 5 trains in a day (different time slots) with 2 different price points- the Platinum (Rm 79 nett/ per way) and the Gold (Rm 59 nett/ per way). Travelers intend to take the ETS must get on board at the KTM Butterworth Station and the travel time will depend on the train-class (whether Platinum or Gold).
Differences between Platinum and Gold Class:
Platinum- Rm 79 for one way/ Rm 44 for children:
- Shorter travel time- 4 hours 5 minutes
- Meal and drink provided
- Lesser stops
- Two trips per day
Gold- Rm 59 for one way/ Rm 34 for children:
- Longer travel time- 4 hours 30 minutes
- No meals or drinks provided
- More stops
- Three trips per day
The KTM train terminal is right next to the ferry terminal but walking over can be hectic for some, especially if you are carrying huge luggage so do plan your travel right. The train leaves punctually so be sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to the departure time. In case you are wondering, there is NO WiFi in the train.
Comfortable seating arrangement
There seats are comfortable and cleverly spaced but the design is somewhat odd. Half of the seats in a coach is facing opposite direction, in other words, some may have to travel backwards for few hours! Passengers have the right to choose the seats before purchasing online, so do pick your seats carefully. Also, the coaches can be quite cold and for the cold-intolerant, putting on an extra jacket might be a wise move.
While passengers are allowed to bring in food and drinks into the coaches, there's a cafe at somewhere in the middle of the train. It does offer some basic food to fill up the tummy but at slightly higher rates.
All in all, the journey was smooth and it was comfortable to travel. The train lands right smack in KL Sentral Station and it is most convenient for travelers. The only challenge for Penang Islanders is to travel all the way to the KTM Train Station at Butterworth, especially as early as 4:30 am (for the first train).