Although this service has been around for quite some time, I realised that few Singapore visitors know of this travel hack. Instead of going through the traffic and long queues at the immigration checkpoint when travelling to Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia, from Singapore via bus or car, skip the long wait and take the train instead!
About KTM Shuttle Services
The train from Singapore (Woodlands Train Checkpoint) to Johor Bahru (JB Sentral) is operated by Malaysia’s KTM Berhad and runs daily on regular timings. The ride is slightly more expensive than taking the bus (5 SGD from Singapore to JB and 5 MYR from JB to Singapore) but only takes 5 minutes to get to the other side!
Tickets can be purchased at the counter but this is definitely not recommended. The train only departs 5 to 12 times a day and tickets are limited hence I would recommend getting your tickets online. Tickets can be purchased up to 1 month in advance and it is better to get your tickets as early as possible especially if you are travelling during the peak periods like on a public holiday or weekend.
Even though KTM Berhad runs their own website, I purchased my tickets on Easybook as the prices were the same and they seemed to have better customer support. Booking was easy and fuss-free and we couldn’t wait for our first train ride to Johor!
Travelling to Johor Bahru by Train
The train departs from Woodlands Train Checkpoint nearest to Marsiling Station. Get out of the Marsiling Station from Exit C and cross the overhead bridge to the bus stop opposite the station. Take bus 856 for four stops and stop at Woodlands Train Checkpoint bus stop. (Be careful not to go to Woodlands Checkpoint where travellers going to JB by car and bus goes through, it is different!)
When you reach the train checkpoint, make your way to the ticketing counter to exchange Easybook’s booking confirmation with the actual ticket. You can then proceed to the immigration area on the second floor. You will clear both Singapore’s and Malaysia’s immigration before you board the train and since the area is special for the train passengers, the queue was short and quick!
The immigration will open 30 minutes before the train departure time and will close 10 minutes. Just be sure to arrive before it closes else you will not be allowed to board the train. If you manage to get yourself into the immigration area before it closes, you will definitely be able to board the train as the train will wait until all passengers in the immigration have boarded before leaving.
We arrived 15 minutes before the departure time and I thought we would miss the train because the immigration queue was still long but they waited for everyone to clear before departing. Eventually, the train left 15 minutes late – Do not make any appointments too near your supposedly ‘Arrival Time’ because the train will definitely arrive later because of the wait.
Strictly no photos once you step into the immigration area and on the platform but photos were allowed inside the train. As you can see, the train is quite old and run down but for a five-minute ride, I am sure it’s okay. I also saw other photos of the KTM train that looks newer so perhaps it just depends on your luck.
Also, even though the tickets indicate your seat number, I did not see anyone sitting at their allocated seat. Most people were crowding on the first two trains because it’s nearest to the exit escalator on the JB side. If you want to sit, go to the third or fourth train and there will be plenty of space!
After a short scare, we finally boarded the train and were on our way to JB!
Travelling to Singapore by Train
The process is quite similar to when we left Singapore for JB but this time, no need to exchange tickets. Just use the QR code in your Easybook confirmation and scan it to get through the boarding gantry. On the way from JB to Singapore, the immigration is split – you go clear Malaysia’s immigration in JB and take the train to Singapore where you will clear Singapore’s immigration.
Everything else remains the same – you still need to arrive at least 10 minutes before the departure time and the train will still wait for everyone to clear the immigration before leaving. Also, take note that again, the checkpoint for the train is different from the bus and car checkpoint although it is right next to each other. Just remember where you arrived in JB, the entrance to the train back is there too.
Overall, I think taking the train is worth the money if you are travelling on weekends or public holidays when the bus and car checkpoint will be jammed and overly crowded. However, if you are going to JB at an odd timing when the other checkpoint is not crowded, perhaps taking the bus would be better – it is still cheaper and no need to wait for other passengers.