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31/07/09 TO 01/08/09
by Andrew Barker.

The 07.40 “Ekspress Rakyat” from Singapore Keppel Road station, had been booked in advance over the net. A one way, first class ticket to Kuala Lumpur, costing some 68 Singapore dollars (approx £30) for a journey time of some 6 hours.

Oddly, for a return journey, starting in Malaysia, the same journey would have cost 68 Malaysia Ringgits – or under half the Sterling value of a ticket bought in Singapore. No matter, the journey was by Western enthusiast standards, still exceptionally good value.

Another oddity is that you pass through Malaysian customs before boarding the train while Singapore customs are at Woodlands Checkpoint, just before the causeway across to Malaysia.

Recent acquisition from India, YDM4-6181 headed the train with 25110 positioned midway down the 12 coach train for support. Leaving Singapore, shunter 19109 noted in the once extensive yard.

At Kampas Baru, the train entered the station and then reversed some 500m or so before proceeding forward again. 23108 was noted here on a short engineers train while another YDM4, 6279 arrived on a short passenger train from the north.

Gemas Junction station was the next stop of any significant interest. Here, pacific 564-36 was plinthed. On pulling out, on the opposite side to the seemingly deserted depot and yard, a blue 0-6-0D shunter numbered SMH 007 was noted. It is believed that this is a former KTM class 17 that has found its way back from Thailand, working for a maintenance contractor.

My first ‘Blue Tiger’, 26110, was noted on a southbound cement train at Rembau. Apart from the odd engineer’s trolley, some of the familiar Wickham brand, and the seemingly endless rubber plantations, there was not much of railway interest until Seremban.

Here dumped 21210 was noted together with 29110 and a number of electric units, appropriately of class ‘EMU’! There appeared to be a depot of sorts here, at this southern end of the Kuala Lumpur (KL) commuter network.

KL Sentral station is a modern construction which combines three railway systems, all entering at different levels.

KTM Intercity and Komuter share the metre gauge lines, albeit into segregated parts of the station.

The standard gauge KLIA serves the airport line with its stock of new Desiros while the RapidKL is a 3rd rail MRT system. Construction work is under way to link the nearby monorail to this amazing transport hub.

That said, for all its interest, the station is not conducive to train watching. A vantage point where you could observe more than one system at once was not located!
So, a Komuter EMU was taken to Sentul, the historic KTM workshops in the northern suburbs.

Much of the once extensive site is now rather dilapidated, pending the transfer of workshop activities to a new facility near Ipoh.

All entrances to the site are well guarded and signs abound illustrating trespassers being shot – literally! No matter, as from the perimeter, probably 90% of the stock, in this case some 30 locos, could be observed.

Amongst the working locos which consisted mainly of YDM4s, Blue Tigers and Chinese CoCos (looking remarkably like Blue Tigers to the untrained eye!), a number of dumped class 23/24s were noted. These included 24102/105/113/ 114/117 and 23101/104/115.

The complex also included a relatively modern unit depot, housing half a dozen or so of the local EMU stock.

Next the Komuter train was taken to end of the line at Port Klang, a journey of about one hour on one of the 3 car EMUs. Passing back through KL, it became apparent that many of the EMUs are no longer capable of operating under their own power and are propelled instead by a variety of large diesels. 24116 was seen with EMU 43, and 24115 with another set.

At the old Moorish style station in KL, a Plymouth 4wD (5054/45?) was plinthed on the island platform.

En route to Port Klang, at Klang, a large wagon works was seen. Stabled at the top end of this complex were 4 Blue Tigers, 26102/104/105/117. Further on, in the yard at Jalan Kastam, 23102/112 and 24106 were noted dumped while 19105 was the active shunter.

Just before Port Klang, in the rapidly diminishing light, 22101 and two further members of this Newton le Willows built class were noted dumped in the PW yard.

The next day, the Komuter line to Rawang was explored. Blue Tiger 26119 was noted at the cement works near Kuang while Rawang itself stabled 26112, 24112 and assorted EMUs.
Back to KL where the National Museum, close to Sentral station had 22121 (masquerading as 22102), and steam 321-01 and 531-01 all plinthed at the entrance.

With a few hours to go before heading back to Singapore (and long haul to Heathrow!), a return visit to Sentul depot was made to catch a couple of recent arrivals before catching the Klia to the airport. A surprise awaited at the new Klia depot, where an ex East German V60D was noted in the yard!