About KTM Shuttle Tebrau
[Update]: Online ticket sales will no longer be available from 1 Dec. Instead, train tickets will go on sale at 8.30am at KTM Intercity counters one day before departure. Each person is only allowed to by 4 tickets.
With an abundance of dining and retail options, Johor Bahru is every bargain hunter’s paradise. The destination itself makes for a pleasant temporary getaway but the journey? Not so much. Which is why the launch of Malaysia’s KTM railway service from Woodlands to Johor is a true godsend.
Gone are the days when you have to endure hours of traffic jams while standing up in a cramped and uncomfortable bus. Introduced in July this year, KTM’s Shuttle Tebrau ferries up to 320 passengers between Woodlands and JB in 5 minutes flat.
Much to everyone’s disbelief, I’d never ventured to JB prior to this research trip. I was sceptical at first, but just one trip has opened my eyes to a whole new world. Here’s the lowdown so you can start flocking across the border with your friends and family too. Seriously, it’s too easy not to.
Shuttle Tebrau operates between Woodlands Train Checkpoint in Singapore and Johor Bahru Sentral in Malaysia.
Contrary to the name, the best way to get to Woodlands Train Checkpoint is actually from Marsiling MRT. Walk out through Exit C and cross the overhead bridge to the bus stop opposite Marsiling Station.
The bus number you’re looking out for is 856. There’s even a handy dandy signboard just for JB-goers, you won’t miss it.
From there, it’s a ride of 4 stops before reaching the Woodlands Train Checkpoint at Woodlands Centre Road bus stop. Make sure you don’t head to Woodlands Checkpoint instead, that’s a whole different place altogether.
Fret not, there are plenty of signs all around to dispel any confusions you may have.
Buying a ticket
Walk straight from the bus stop towards the ticketing office. Take note that for security reasons, no photography is allowed in the areas of the train checkpoint as well as the exterior of the trains. Do take a moment to admire the latter, though. They’re old-school and rather beautiful indeed. A pity that they can’t be Instagrammed! #firstworldproblems
The daily timings scheduled for KTM’s Shuttle Tebrau between Woodlands and JB Sentral are as follows:
Woodlands CIQ to JB Sentral: 6:30 am to 6.35 am | 8:00 am to 8:05 am | 9.30 am to 9.35 am | 5:00 pm to 5:05 pm | 6.30 pm to 6.35 pm | 8:00 pm to 8:05 pm | 11:00 pm to 11:05 pm
JB Sentral to Woodlands CIQ: 5:30 am to 5:35 am | 7:00 am to 7:05 am | 8.30 am to 8:35 am | 4:00 pm to 4:05 pm | 5:30 pm to 5:35 pm | 7:00 pm to 7:05 pm | 10:00 pm to 10:05 pm
You can also see a copy of their schedule here.
As part of efforts to reduce congestion on the causeway, KTM has increased the number of daily trips from 14 to a spanking 22! There will now be a total of 10 trips from Woodlands to JB Sentral and 12 trips in the opposite direction every day.
No more crying when you miss one train and wind up having to wait up to 7 hours!
Here's a full list of the updated timings:
Woodlands CIQ to JB Sentral: 8:00 am to 8:05 am | 10:00 am to 10:05 am | 1:30 am to 1:35 pm | 4:30 pm to 4:35 pm | 6:00 pm to 6:05 pm | 6:45 pm to 6:50 pm | 8:00 pm to 8:05 pm | 8:45 pm to 8:50 pm | 10:00 pm to 10:05 pm | 11:15 pm to 11:20 pm
JB Sentral to Woodlands CIQ: 5:30 am to 5:35 | 6:00 am to 6:05 am | 6:30 am to 6:35 am | 7:00 am to 7:05 am | 8:30 am - 8:35 am | 9:00 am to 9:05 am | 12:30 pm to 12:35 pm | 3:30 pm to 3:35 pm | 5:00 pm to 5:05 pm | 7:00 pm to 7:05 pm | 9:00 pm to 9:05 pm | 10:15 pm to 10:20 pm
There are 7 trips from each side’s station per day, 14 in total. The timings cater to the morning and evening crowd which consists mainly of people going to and from work or school. When we made our way down for our 5:00 pm ride on a weekday, there was nary enough people to even fill up a whole cabin!
Tickets are SGD5.00 for a one-way trip. If you’re returning from JB, it’d be RM5.00. Simply pay over the counter and you’ll be on your way to clear the customs in a matter of seconds. Children below the age of 4 get to ride for free!
Tickets are available for booking through e-mail or telephone via KTMB Call Center. Refer to the end of this post for all contact details! Online purchase of tickets is currently unavailable.
The customs and immigration process is fuss-free and actually quite pleasant. The officers we encountered were all very friendly and helpful, and the general vibe of the whole place was just a lot more laidback than most customs areas we’ve encountered! A brilliant start to any trip, I’d say.
Things to note:
1. Tickets sell out really quickly on weekends
The weekends and holidays draw in huge crowds. My colleague arrived at 9am on a Saturday only to discover that ticket sales for the 9.30am departure has closed. Make an advanced booking by calling 1-300-88-KTMB(5862) or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Arrive 30 minutes before train departure
Give yourself ample time to clear customs and immigration. We whizzed through it because there was hardly anyone but on a busy day, it could take a while. Stay one step ahead of any unexpected complications that might further delay the process.
The trains open for boarding 30 minutes before departure and leave on the dot! No ticket refunds will be given if you miss your train so, kiasu a bit lah.
3. Photography is not allowed
For security reasons, there’s a strict policy against photography, even for seemingly harmless things like the station and trains itself, so don’t go haplessly snapping away! We got stopped by an officer while trying to get some shots of the checkpoint’s premises and were made to delete all our photos.
Pictures taken within the trains are permitted though, so go right on ahead and have a little photoshoot while waiting for the train to hit the road. New #ootd setting, anyone?
After marvelling at how antiquated yet grand the train looks, step inside and take your pick of comfy looking spots across numerous cabins. It’s free-seating!
Trains depart on the dot at their stipulated timings to ensure you get to your destination on time. For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the view as the train whisks you away.
Food and drinks are allowed on the train, so pack some light bites if you wish to. You can purchase food from 7-Eleven or the neighbourhood bakery at Marsiling MRT Station en route to the bus stop. There’s also a Sheng Siong supermarket a short walk away from Woodlands Train Checkpoint.
Toilets are available in each of the train cabins, but they aren’t exactly new and luxurious, if you catch my drift. For a 5 minute train ride...maybe consider holding it?
This one’s sort of a no-brainer, but smoking is prohibited on the trains.
For some reason, there aren’t any rules against photography of the train’s exterior once you reach JB. Hooray!
People who frequent JB will be familiar with this sight. This is where passengers of the KTM Shuttle Tebrau will alight, much closer to City Square mall than if you were to take a bus.
There’s a handful of dining establishments at the station before you even step out into the wilderness.
JB Sentral is directly linked to City Square Mall, so there will be food and shopping options aplenty immediately upon arrival. If you’re spoiled for choice in terms of dining options, check out our food guide here to get you started on the best!
There’s also a money changer closeby and transport options to get you all throughout the city, such as taxi stands and bus stops.
JB Adventure Time
The launch of this railway system means that we’re more connected and accessible to JB than ever before. Depending on where you stay, heading there could even take a lesser time than going to town for your usual hangouts.
Next time you’re itching to spend time with your loved ones in a setting that’s a little different, but not too far from home, consider paying JB a visit. There’s nothing like making a quick little getaway across the straits to keep things fresh and interesting. And at only 5 bucks per ticket that will only take 5 minutes of your time? There’s just no reason to say no.