Nite Train...

My journey was from Kajang to Tanah Merah in KTM Express Wau. I know that it is not a practical method of travelling but I feel kind of nostalgic about travelling by train again. It has been a very long time since the last ride. I still remember the good old days (in the early 70's) travelling by train from Temangan in Kelantan to KL seemed infinite and forever... I was barely 18 then...

At 8:15pm I made my way to Kajang stn platform and the train rolled into around 9:00pm. This mammoth beast was 24 coaches long and a trail of diesel fumes followed in its wake. As I dashed in a friendly conductor checked my ticket and ferried me kindly towards the sleeper cabins. With my backpacks weighing me down, I grabbed the cold metal handrails and hauled myself up into the sleeping compartment.

The KTM Express Wau train begins its journey each day frm KL Central stn around 8:00pm. The train was a good way into my journey when the night had set in. The carriage attendant had already been through and made up the beds for the night. Since I am only 5’4” (163cm) I was pleased to find that I could lie down flat-straight on the berth and have my legs fully extended. Luxury! Blankets and sheets come neatly folded in a small plastic bag. I tore it open, hurriedly made up my bed and settled down with a can of isotonic drink to aid my sleep.

By the time I’d finished my drink, I lay back in my birth, wrapped myself up in blankets and closed my eyes. It’s dark outside, as the train rattles through the countryside I could hear the familiar ‘clickety clack’, the woosh as it sped and the strange sensation as it slowed and snaked its away across bridges. 

I could not sleep, but worse yet, I could not see the world passing by outside the carriage. For me, this was pure torture. I guess, in the end, I must have snatched a couple of hours sleep here and there, in between the banging of a broken door and the thunderous booming of my carriage. The train was due to arrive into Tanah Merah at 8:30am, so the attendant made his way through the carriage and turned everybody out of bed. Since I had hardly slept at all, I was one of the first to be ready.

I was a bit tired, but the journey had been reasonably comfortable. I wouldn’t say that I fell in love with this mode of transport, but I still look forward to the day, that I fall asleep on a train, waking fully refreshed at my destination.

General Comments: 
The KTM can be proud of its service with modern fleet of coaches along West Coast route. KTM has undergone a period of modernisation since 1998 which saw it adding new locomotives and coaches to its fleet. The number of passengers has also multiplied ever since, but I think very little attention was given for the East Coast service.

Of course the train is now very much cleaner and no more infamous smell as its being cleaned around the clock but the the train itself and its facility are not maintained well. For example the PA and entertainment system are gone and never been replaced. Doors pneumatic mechanisms are faulty and so the indicator lights...  and  in most stretches between Gemas and Tanah Merah, especially from Kuala Lipis to Gua Musang  the train moved at disappointing slow speeds not more than 70kph to negotiate with the old unstable tracks which are still nailed down onto old wooden sleepers.

Not withstanding I like traveling in trains which gives me total freedom and the feeling of "at home" - where I can sleep and move around freely. However, I do hope KTM will enhance its service quality to the East Coast. Many tourists go to Kelantan from KL and from Thailand. An improved service will not only attract more passengers but will provide KTM with a good image.

"The old home town looks the same as I step down from the train, and there to meet me is my Mama and Papa. Down the road I look and there runs Mary hair of gold and lips like cherries. It's good to touch the green, green grass of home. Yes, they'll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly. It's good to touch the green, green, grass of home. The old house is still standing, tho' the paint is cracked and dry, and there's that old oak tree that I used to play on. Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries. It's good to touch the green, green grass of home. Yes, they'll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly. It's good to touch the green, green grass of home."