Sunday, February 20, 2011

Taking the train home - The new JB Sentral Station

Last Thursday I finally managed to take one of my two Off-in-Lieus *yeah*.

I wanted to take the train from Singapore to JB Sentral in the morning so I could take some photos of the old Tanjong Pagar Railway station before they shut down the old place in July (and move the operations to Woodlands, thus reducing the path that the train cuts along Singapore).

But because we had to run some very last-minute yet coincidental errands, we missed all the trains going into Malaysia that day. I was in quite a mad sulk because I specifically took leave so that we could go on the train. We ended up debating whether we should even go into Malaysia that day, because it was already afternoon when we finished the errands. So since we were there just to spend the afternoon, we decided maybe we should take the train back

In the end, we just went to City Square. Interestingly the long path we now have to cut through on foot in order to get to City Square (and also to the Wong Ah Fook Road where we take buses to other parts of JB, e.g. Jusco Tebrau City) actually goes past the new JB Sentral Railway station.We could see the signboards all the way, but we couldn't figure where it was.

It turned out to be the building nearest and opposite the City Square. 

I don't know if it is because everytime we go to JB, whether it is because we are totally focused on getting to City Square and beyond or that I have returned every Bahasa Indonesia (somewhat similar to Melayu) knowledge to my teacher, but I somehow don't recognize that hey, it's a station?!

So we asked the lady  how much it costs to go one-trip to Singapore. Only 3RM (exchange rate that day: Singapore Dollar to Malaysian Ringgit was 1:1.375) so that was about S$2.18, which is ok if you are just joy riding, even if the train + MRT journey takes longer than the bus+ MRT journey back. Anyway the reason why the trip is so long has also to do with the long stops - 1 for the Singapore checkpoint, 1 for the Bukit Timah station, so another train can go past).

The train is not for the fainthearted. It is old, dingy and has a potent smell that reminded me of the BO from 50 old men. It because worse after we had to stop at Singapore checkpoint to check our passports (even the train driver) and let the K9 poochies sniff the entire train. I pity the dogs, because the air-con was switched off and the smell was pretty invasive to our senses. Luckily we moved to another cabin where the aircon was turned on strong after we left the checkpoint.

PS. When you go to Malaysia, it is always advisable to change money in Singapore first before going. Like I said earlier, the exchange rate was 1.1.375? That was the rate offered in Singapore. In JB it was 1:1.355, which becomes significant if you are changing a lot.

2nd PS. This is a very important tip. Say you want to train to Penang or KL (I don't know why though, when air ticks are cheap too, but this is what I did ten years ago, when there was no Air Asia), If you can, you should always go into JB sometime and buy the train tickets from JB to Penang or KL, instead of buying the ticks in Singapore. You know why? Because the prices quoted in Tanjong Pagar train station is numerically equivalent to JB's (e.g S$36 and RM36 maybe), but the exchange rate makes it very worth it. You can save so much money this way. All you need to do is commute by MRT to Kranji, Woodlands or Bugis (this is the stupidest, cos it will be smarter to take those long distance buses there, instead of bus to JB then train to Penang.) Switch to 170 or the Malaysian express bus. Get in JB, chillax and then catch your train.

ticket counter

Arrival/ Departure Hall. You have to wait again after you check your passport downstairs

The end of the train (I never managed to take the photo of the train from the front)
Leaving the JB Sentral railway station
Singapore's water supply

How close the train was to the vehicles on the Causeway. Fascinating

The toilet... not for the fainthearted. There is a squatting one opposite it.
Updated!!! (latest update: 18 Aug 2011)
There are different trains that go to Singapore from JB Sentral (this is the station you should refer to for JB city), and prices differ due to the types of trains they are (longer distance ones or shuttle ones). They even have those with beds (overkill, don't bother if you are merely travelling between JB and Singapore), separate by coach classes etc. But the cheapest ticket would be the shuttle kind, only one price RM3 from JB Sentral to Singapura (Singapore).

If you are planning a trip, you can try the official KTM website for the various useful options:
(1) Check how much it will cost to travel between cities, e.g. Singapore and KL. Note: you will need to sign up as a member to actually buy the tickets online, but the site is pretty useful if you just want to gauge how much it will cost based on the coach class you choose and what is the timing of the train.
(2) Check the number of seats available for all the trains for the week.

They are all air-conditioned, though I am not quite sure if it is a blessing >.<

Please note that as of 1 Jul 2011, the Tanjong Pagar train station has closed for good. Everyone has to get out at Woodlands. Don't waste your time =D taking the train from JB, unless you are already taking the train from elsewhere in Malaysia. Just take bus 170, 160 or special yellow Malaysian buses (not the ones which say "Sekolah". That is Malay for schoolbus *haha*) from the Malaysian Checkpoint. 

Interesting note: If you want to take bus 170/160, and it is super crowded (e.g. end of Holidays, or Sunday night), don't waste your time waiting in the queue.. just run to the front of the line. There are always some weird people who don't want to stand on the bus across the Causeway, so the bus conductors will let people who jump queue to board the bus if they are willing to pack themselves in. You still have to pay, of course...


  1. Hi,

    kindly advice if there type of tickets to chose from (JB city to SGP) ? do we need to specify the air-con ticket ? thanks

  2. Hi Spacecraft,

    Pls see entry. I updated it to reflect your query.



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