Malaysia has a train network of 1,699 km on the mainland of Malaysia and 134 km in Sabah State on the Island of Borneo. This is a small railway network compared to 4,070 km of track in neighbouring Thailand and over 5,400 km of railway track in Myanmar, and tiny compared to the 92,081 km of running track covered by the Indian Railway Network.
The majority of the mainland track in Malaysia is split into two mainline running North to South. The busiest line is the West Coast line running from Pedang Besar on the border with Thailand to Gemas via Kuala Lumpur. The East Coast Line runs from Tumpat, near to Malaysia’s East coast border with Thailand, all the way down to Johor Bharu near the border with Singapore.
There are also branch lines off these mainlines to Port Klang, the Batu Caves, Bukit Mertajam, Teluk Intan, Tanjung Pelepas, Kempas and Rantau Panjang. A third major train line is still in the planning stage which will be a high speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore reducing the current journey time of around 7 hours down to 90 minutes.
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Places to Visit in Malaysia
Malaysia’s train network is relatively efficient, modern, clean and cheap and travel by train is a great way to travel around the Malay peninsula to visit the most popular tourist destination:
- Penang: The island of Penang, known for it great beaches and historic George Town, can be easily accessed from Butterworth train station on Malaysia’s West Coast train line. From the Butterworth train station the journey by ferry to Penang takes only 15 minutes and costs 1.2 MYR per person. Alternatively you can take a taxi to Penang which is connected to the mainland by two bridges.
- Kuala Lumpur: On Malaysia’s West Coast line, by train the journey from Padang Besar on the border with Thailand to Kuala Lumpur is scheduled to take around 5 hours 30 minutes.
- Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands: Ipoh is Malaysia’s third largest city and it is located on the edge of the Cameron highlands. By train Ipoh is around 3 hours from Padang Besar on the border with Thailand and 2 hours 20 minutes from Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
- Malacca: The closest major train station to the historic coastal town of Malacca is Gemas, which is slighly over 2 hours south of Kuala Lumpur by train. From Gemas you can travel by road to Malacca in slightly over 1 hour.
- Johor Bharu for connections to Singapore: Johor Bharu is at the very bottom end of Malaysia’s East Coast line, also known as the Jungle Line as it runs through the forests of the Cameron Highlands. There are 14 departures a day from Johor Bharu Sentral Station to Woodlands Railway Station in Singapore. The journey by train from Johor Bharu to Singapore takes only 5 minutes.