Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur Overnight Train in a First Class Sleeper
Deciding to live on a budget and avoid planes, train travel around Malaysia can be very cheap but often the challenge is getting tickets. The KTMB site has been going well for years however it can still be a wait for sleeper berths to open for reservation. We waited an extra day in JB so we could take the overnight train service and finally after 5 or so years since my prior cancelled attempt was able to ride the line in a sleeper, first class no less.
JB Station is quite modernised and part of the checkpoint with Singapore. Trains to KL used to run direct from Singapore in a complicated historical story but were reduced to Woodlands station just on the border and most recently cut altogether. So now there are only commuter shuttle trains operating between JB & Woodlands, and it’s just as good to cross by foot & bus. JB Station is linked by foot bridge to two major upmarket malls which avoid the snaking lines of traffic below.
With ticket in hand, there is a small waiting area in main station area. Most activity is around the stores and 24 hour fast food outlet. From here it’s two escalators down, one to Singapore the other for domestic services.
Once boarding has commenced it’s straight down to the platform and onto your carriage.
These are older trains and it is a slow service. Hopefully one day, soon the whole trip can be taken on a truly high-speed service, the distances are perfectly ideal for train over air services. However for now it makes a good overnight trip, departing around 22:30 and arriving early after 6:00.
First class sleepers offer twin berth cabins with a private toilet and shower. There is plenty of storage and on these night services the beds are made and ready to go. You get to sleep in the direction of travel. Dinner and breakfast(?) is ordered and served to the cabin, but we found it better timing to eat before boarding and sleep the whole trip. We also missed out on towels which were meant to be provided but given I slept the whole trip, ultimately unnecessary. The train trip is loud and noisy, perhaps surprisingly more than expected. The upper berth had less noise and light disturbance but overall it was a good use of the noise-cancelling headphones.
Overall a comfortable ride and private but I’d recommend taking a day service so you can see the countryside.