Published: Thursday, 19 November 2020 10:54
THERE'S something undeniably romantic and nostalgic about taking a long train journey to frontier towns like Lipis in Pahang or Tumpat in Kelantan. Less than 25 years ago, rail transport was the only mode of transport for many living in rural areas of Malaysia. But with modern highways and better roads, the romantic railway journey has taken a back seat to more fast and efficient modes of transport.
Serviced by Keretapi Tanah Melayu ( KTM), there are two main train routes on the peninsular - the East and West Coast Main Lines that connect various towns throughout the country.
Most northern destinations on the West Coast Line have been progressively taken over by faster and modern electric trains that have cut travel time considerably. The East Coast Line that starts in Gemas in Johor and ends at Tumpat in Kelantan is, however, still serviced by the slower diesel-hauled intercity train, making for a more interesting travel experience, at least in my opinion. And with that, here are five reasons for you to go on a train journey to the east coast.
Unlike the cramped seats of airplanes, buses and cars, the open-plan sleeping berths of KTM's Intercity night train let you stretch out in comfort while looking out of the wide coach windows or enjoy a good night's sleep.
The Express Rakyat Timuran that starts from Johor Bahru and ends at Tumpat is a 17-hour journey, making the sleeping berths a wise choice.
There's a certain charm having the train conductor in his blue KTM uniform asks for your train ticket as the train slowly rolls along the railway. The conductor may even wake you up when you reach your chosen stop along the railway line.
The train's cafeteria coach is not only the place for snacks and drinks but also the place for a bit of conversation with other friendly passengers.
The open-plan sleeping berths are perfect for families since it has ample space for the children to bound about. Diapers can be easily changed and babies nursed at any time in private thanks to the privacy curtains of the sleeping berths. Children are naturally fascinated by the train as well, making it a memorable experience for them.
Located along the East Coast Line that runs through the interior of Peninsular Malaysia are fascinating destinations to visit, such as the historic frontier tin-mining town of Kuala Lipis that was once the state capital of Pahang and also the gateway to Kenong Rimba State Park.
Remainders of its once prosperous status can be seen in the many historic colonial buildings that have been conserved. Other destinations include Jerantut which is Pahang's gateway to Malaysia's oldest national park Taman Negara.
Although officially called the East Coast Line, other passengers and travelers call it the Jungle Railway. The almost 500km line was completed in sections, first to Kuala Lipis in 1920 and then extended to Tumpat past the city of Kota Bahru, Kelantan in 1931.
Used exclusively at first to transport tin, rubber, and palm oil, the first passenger service for the line was introduced in 1938.
One of the best ways to really take in the scenery of the Jungle Railway is to take the overnight train to Kuala Lipis and then take the local shuttle trains during the day to Gua Musang or Tumpat, Kelantan.
For more information on KTM's Intercity services, visit www.ktmb.com.my
Published: Wednesday, 21 October 2020 09:00
KUANTAN: The government's move to close Taman Negara in Jerantut has caused confusion and raised questions, as neither the national park nor Pahang is under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin has therefore urged the government to revoke its order and reopen Taman Negara, which has been closed since Oct 6. "I do not know why the government decided to shut down Taman Negara. Can you imagine how many people have cancelled their reservations, resulting in operators suffering losses amounting to thousands of ringgit?....The CMCO is enforced in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (so) why penalise people in other places?
"People from Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Johor or states not under the CMCO should be allowed to travel for holidays in Taman Negara. The federal government has to look at the bigger picture, as the national park is not affected by the CMCO," he said when contacted today. Sharkar said the tourism industry in Kuala Tahan was just getting back on its feet when the announcement was made to close Taman Negara. "I want them (the government) to reopen it. There is a time to close the park, which is during the monsoon season, and during that time (the rainy season), people seldom travel there," he said.
Sharkar was responding to a protest by tour operators in Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara, who had submitted a memorandum to the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, urging the authorities to immediately revoke the closure notice. The Kuala Tahan operators describe the closure of the park, located in one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, for the second time this year as harmful to their livelihoods and could lead to losses estimated at RM2 million. Meanwhile, Jerantut Member of Parliament Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idris, who received the memorandum from Kuala Tahan Village Development and Safety Committee chairman, Abdul Jalil Abd Rahman today, said he sympathises with the tourism operators' plight.
"They (operators) are in the midst of recovering after the three-month closure due to the Movement Control Order, and now, they are put in a tough situation. They are certainly running out of time, as the monsoon season in December will force the park to be closed. "Since Taman Negara is not declared a red zone or under the CMCO, I hope the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry will review their decision and reopen the park," he said.