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Kuala Lumpur - 1.6 million inhabitants in city proper, some 7.2 million in metropolitan area

The urban rail system in the Malaysian capital currently consists of three metro-style routes, whose names and line designations have changed repeatedly in the past, with a fourth now under construction. Despite being referred to as LRT, all the routes are completely grade-separated. The urban rail network is complemented by an S-Bahn-style suburban railway plus the KLIA Airport Express:



The system formerly known as 'STAR' (for "Sistem Transit Aliran Ringan") is an elevated driver operated system. After construction began in 1993, the line started revenue service in three stages: 16 Dec 1996 Sultan Ismail - Ampang (12 km); 12 July 1998 Chan Sow Lin - Sri Petaling (southern branch) and then in Dec. 1998 the northern stretch to Sentul Timur. Total length of the line had reached 27 km (17.6 at grade without level crossings, 9.4 elevated mainly between Sultan Ismail and Plaza Rakyat), 25 stations (17 at grade, 8 elevated). Trains run at a maximum speed of 70 km/h (commercial speed 35 km/h) and are air-conditioned. Since Nov 2004, the two lines have been operated by RAPID KL. 11 years later, the first section of a southern extension was opened. Upon completion of the southern extension, the Sri Petaling & Ampang Line has a total length of 45.1 km.

16 Dec 1996: Sultan Ismail - Ampang (12 km)
12 July 1998: Chan Sow Lin - Sri Petaling
06 Dec 1998:
Sultan Ismail - Sentul Timur
01 Nov 2015: Sri Petaling - Kinrara BK5 (5.5 km)
31 March 2016: Kinrara BK5 - Bandar Puteri
(6.5 km)
30 June 2016:
Bandar Puteri - Putra Heights (5.4 km)

Ampang Line Ampang Line Ampang Line

More Sri Petaling & Ampang Line photos!


For one year this 29 km line was actually the world's longest fully automated line until Lille's Line 2 was extended to 32 km in Oct. 2000. It is mainly elevated with a 4.4 km underground section between Masjid Jamek and Ampang Park. All stations are wheelchair accessible, have toilets, and platform screen doors in underground stations, info is also provided in English. The former PUTRA (Projek Usahasama Transit Ringan Automatik) line is operated by 35 two-car air-conditioned trains which carry some 35 million passengers per year. On 1 Sept 1998 it started operating between Kelana Jaya and Pasar Seni (14.1 km), and from 26 June 1999 it continues north to Terminal Putra (now Gombak) (14.9 km). KL Sentral station (central railway station) finally opened on 1 April 2001. Since Nov 2004, the line has been operated by RAPID KL. With the extension to Putra Heights in 2016, the line has reached a total length of 46.4 km.

01 Sept 1998: Kelana Jaya - Pasar Seni (14.1 km)
26 June 1999: Pasar Seni - Terminal Putra (now Gombak) (14.9 km)
01 April 2001: KL Sentral station opened
24 Dec 2010: Sri Rampai station added
30 June 2016: Kelana Jaya - Putra Heights (17.4 km) (Project Website)

Kelana Jaya Line Kelana Jaya Line Kelana Jaya Line

More Kelana Jaya Line photos!

 KL Monorail Line (Line 8)

Construction of an elevated monorail line (planned to be 16 km long) began in 1997. Eventually only the northern part (8.6 km) was built. Permanently coupled 2-car trains are driver-operated and run every 2-5 minutes during peak hours. The 20 m long and 3 m wide trains are based on the Seattle Monorail. Stations are built 10 m above the road with 63 m side platforms, distance between stations is 600-1000 m.

31 Aug 2003: Titiwangsa - KL Sentral

KL Monorail KL Monorail KL Monorail
 MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line (Line 9)

As part of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit, the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line is a 51 km line that starts at Sungai Buloh located to the northwest of Kuala Lumpur, runs through the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, and ends in Kajang southeast of Kuala Lumpur. The line is underground through the city centre over a distance of 9.5 km. There are 31 stations of which seven are underground. (Project Website)

16 Dec 2016: Sungai Buloh - Semantan (21 km)
17 July 2017: Semantan - Kajang (30 km)

KLIA Ekspres (Airport Express Line with commuter service)

On 14 April 2002, a new 57 km express rail line started operating from KL Sentral to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport). The line is also used for a commuter service with three intermediate stations.



LRT3 will be a 37 km metro line with 26 stations starting from Bandar Utama station on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line and serving the western parts of the metropolitan area (2020, Project Website)

 KTM Suburban Rail


MyRapid - Official Public Transport Portal

KLIA Ekspres - Airport Express Line

Public Transport in Kuala Lumpur at Wikipedia

Monorail Society's KL Monorail Special

Stesen Sentral - KL Integrated Rail Services

Mc Leong's KL Site includes LRT info

KTMB - Malaysian National Railways

KL Fare Calculator

Transit - Malaysia's Public Transport Forum



KL Monorail KL Monorail KL Monorail



Craig Moore reports from Kuala Lumpur in Nov. 2016:

The development of urban rail in Kuala Lumpur has been very fragmented, with the system being created and expanded through different ownership, construction, mode and operational style. It was not until 2004, when Rapid KL took operational control of the LRT lines, that some semblance of integration became evident. In 2007 the Monorail was also brought under this brand and since then there has been an attempt to better assimilate urban rail provision in the capital area, with mixed success. This trend, together with recent expansions of rail provision, now means there is quite a significant rail ‘footprint’ within the KL area, with 100km of service and 83 stations. Whilst Rapid KL is undoubtedly the backbone of rail provision, this is supported by KTM suburban rail services and a private airport line to PutraJaya and KLIA. Together 7 lines operate in the Federal District and surrounding parts of Selangor.

The first modern rail provision in KL was the Ampang/Sri Petaling Line. It runs on standard-gauge track with third-rail power supply from the Sentul area in the north on an elevated structure along the Gombak River and through the original city centre, Chinatown and the Indian area. This part of town is the most characterful and the elevation is a great way to see the city. The trains run very slowly on this central section which includes interchange with the Monorail at Titiwangsa and Hang Tuah, and with the Kelana Jaya Line at Jamek Mosque, a station with wonderful views. The line speeds up slightly as it returns to grade after Plaza Rakyat on its way to Chan Sow Lin - a multi-platform station to enable transfer between the Ampang and Sri Petaling branches. Before September 2016, both lines shared the route from Sentul Timur through the city centre offering a headway of 5mins, but since the expansion of the Sri Petaling Line in September 2016, the service pattern of these lines has changed, with the Ampang Line now just a branch of the main line, starting its grade level 8.1km journey to the Ampang terminus at Chan Sow Lin at 10min intervals. Because of this, the central area is now served solely by the Sri Petaling Line (37km total) with 10min headways, effectively halving service provision in the central area [PS.: Through service of the Ampang Line to Sentul Timor was reinstated a few months later!]. East of Chan Sow Lin, the Sri Petaling Line makes use of a flying junction to turn southward. The line runs at grade and parallel to the KLIA and KTM lines for a while around Bandar Tasik Selatan (barriered interchange) before becoming continually elevated to the original terminus at Sri Petaling and west on the new 17.4km extension to Putra Heights. This part of the line is much smarter than the original sections, its stations being large, modern and stylish with good signage and information - all very different from the weathered, basic and shabby stations to the north. The south-western part of KL is full of commercial and lower-density housing developments, as well as being home to the new national stadium and, although patronage levels beyond Sri Petaling are currently very low, the future predictions are impressive.

The stock on these two lines is mixed with the Ampang Line being occasionally served by the remaining Adtranz stock that formed part of the original rail provision (6-car sets as 3 coupled pairs). This stock now looks very tired - both exteriors and interiors are shabby and the ride is noisy and jerky. However, most services to Ampang and all services on the Sri Petaling Line, use the new CSR 6-car sets. This stock massively increases capacity on the lines and brings a real boost to the appeal of the services which appear now more light metro than LRT. This stock is very smart, with electronic strip maps, and LCD screens showing Rapid KL adverts and dynamic location information. Despite all of this shiny newness, though, services still run quite slowly and it does seem to take an age to get to Putra Heights. Once there, however, this large, smart station amply illustrates how far Rapid KL has moved forward in creating a modern integrated urban rail system. Interchange stations in the city centre suffer from the legacy of separate ownership and transfer involves long walkways and stairs to completely different buildings, whilst Putra Heights offers modern, well signed and effortless interchange. The station consists of one central island platform and two exterior side platforms. The southern platforms (1/2) are used for the Sri Petaling Line and the northern platforms (3/4) (only platform 3 is used at the moment) for the automated Kelana Jaya Line. This allows cross-platform interchange for passengers coming from the east on the Sri Petaling Line. The KJ line uses a mix of 2 and 4-car Bombardier stock and runs on standard gauge with third-rail power supply. Being fully automated the line runs some useful headways (6/7mins) and offers unrestricted views from the front of the train. It is a great line to travel on.

The new 17.4km extension from Putra Heights runs north to Kelana Jaya in the south-west of the city and brings the line length to 46.4km (37 stations). This new section is elevated and has been constructed well to enable a very smooth and speedy ride. The stations on this section have distinctive ‘wing-shaped’ roofs and have island platforms. At USJ17, patronage starts to pick up (my train was empty until then) where the line connects to the new Sunway BRT. There is also some interesting infrastructure at Subang Jaya, where there is barriered interchange with the KTM line to Port Klang, and also around Ara Damansara/Lembah Subang where there are downward ramps to the large stabling facilities. Once the line reaches the original terminus at Kelana Jaya there is a distinct change in the service with very high passenger numbers, more basic chunky stations (mainly side platforms) and a more dense urban environment. This part of the line toward KL Sentral and beyond offers some great views of the cityscape as the line travels over crowded roads and meanders between buildings.

KL Sentral is the largest rail hub in South East Asia providing transfer to other rail and bus provision. This is a very busy station with a large entrance floor and various access points to the elevated KJ Line, the underground KTM and KLIA lines and (via a shopping centre) to the Rapid KL Monorail. Beyond Pasar Seni the KJ line goes underground for 4.3 km with 5 underground stations serving the newer commercial areas of the northern city centre. These stations have large entrance porticos but the ticket halls are down at heel and quite small as are the short island platforms (full platform screens). KLCC (Petronas Towers) and Masjid Jamek are the busiest of the underground stations and can get quite crowded. The line north of Ampang Park is again elevated as the line heads to the northern suburbs. From the north, on the return journey south, the views of the city centre with its skyscrapers is impressive (especially from Damai station).

The Kelana Jaya Line also connects with the Monorail at KL Sentral although this involves leaving the system and walking through a large shopping centre and over an elevated walkway. An additional ticket is also required. The 8.6km KL Monorail starts at KL Sentral in Brickfields and meanders its way through the eastern central area and Buklit Bintang at 7/8min base headways. The straddle beam system uses Malaysian built 2 or 4-car SCOMI Sutra stock which gets quite busy at times as it visits several popular areas and has interchange with the Sri Petaling line at both Hang Tuah and Titiwangsa (in both cases a significant transfer is required as stations are quite a distance from each other). The 11 stations are all similar in style and grubbiness, with escalators/stairs from the street to a mezzanine ticket hall with customer service station before an additional climb to the platform with its half screens. Travelling through the central areas above main thoroughfares means that the views along the line are good and the journey is speedy, although there are often lengthy dwell times at stations, as the driver awaits signal change.

Overall Rapid KL is a good system and has much improved in recent years. Some of the stations look tired but the integration has worked and the coverage of the city is pretty impressive. Services run at useful headway on all modes from 0600-2330. Navigation aids have improved - there is plentiful signage and lines and stations are identified by initials and station number (as in Singapore/Bangkok). Schematic maps are plentiful at entrances and platforms and there are customer service centres at each station with many stocking schematic maps in hard copy (a recent improvement). There is, at last, a semblance of style uniformity across stations and stock – the Rapid KL brand is prominent and integration (both physically and functionally) works – albeit clumsy in places – despite a legacy of fragmented provision. Ticket machines are simple to follow and dispense small black RFID tokens which are scanned on entry and slotted on exit. Fares are distance based and cover all three modes – they range from 2.30 to 6.10. Frequent users also have stored-value cards which can be used on Rapid KL services (incl. buses). If arriving from the airport there is also a KLIA transit and Rapid KL 24-hour card for 115 Ringgit (including return KLIA fare), but 24-hour tickets are not available for Rapid KL only.

Although an integral part of the Klang Valley Integrated Rail Network (KVIRN) and with physical interchange at 3 (soon to be 4) Rapid KL stations, the suburban rail network in Kuala Lumpur is not part of the Rapid KL brand/operation. Suburban rail provision is divided into two separate operations. Firstly, KTM Kommuter. This began in its current guise in 1995 and is formed of a 2-line system that operates in an ‘X’ formation across the Greater KL area. Line 1 runs from Seremban/Tampin in the south-east to Batu Caves the north-east whilst Line 2 runs from the Klang area through Shah Alam to the centre and north to Rawang (and an onward shuttle to Tanjung Malin). The service has 152.9km of route (4.2km shared) and houses 54 stations. It runs on 1000 gauge with overhead power supply.

This is a system where theory and practice diverge. Theoretically, the system has all the hallmarks of a good suburban rail network. Physical integration with other rail services, embedded on the KVIRN schematic map, smart modern 6-car CSR stock with electronic information and side seating, high patronage levels, a bundled service though the central area on a 4.2km section (4 stations) from Putra to KL Sentral (including the beautifully ornate, tatty and historic Kuala Lumpur Station), to provide a reasonable 20/25min headways, and there is even a 1km underground stretch including a 4-platform underground station at KL Sentral. In practice though, KTM Kommuter is best described as a ‘lethargic’ rail system that fails to perform as it should. Firstly the services run pretty slowly and there are long dwell times at stations; secondly the trains on each route run only 45min headways and so outside of the bundled corridor services are not very frequent and finally, the services are frequently delayed (often significantly) and there is no dovetailing of schedules to ensure a well spaced service in the central area. Without such timetable discipline the value of the bundled service is limited. Stations have ticket machines but these take coins only and so queues at ticket counters can be lengthy. Fares are distance based and tickets come in the form of a bright yellow token.

The second suburban rail operation is a private concern and is based around the airport rail link. KLIA Transit and KLIA Ekspres is operated by Express Rail Link (ERL) and run services on the 57km line from KL Sentral to KLIA Terminal 1 and 2. The services use platforms at different sides of KL Sentral and at the airport the island platforms are bi-directional with each type of service using just one platform. The Express journey takes 28mins and is branded as the fastest train in South East Asia, whilst the Transit service is more suburban rail and has 3 intermediate modern stations (with transfer to the Sri Petaling Line at Bandar Tasik Selatan), taking 36mins to reach the airport. Ekspres trains run at 15/20min intervals from 0500-0000, whilst Transit services are every 30mins. As a new service, it was constructed using standard gauge and runs parallel to the 1000 gauge KTM line from the city to Serdang, where the separate services diverge. The journey is smooth and fast and by far the best way to reach the city - sitting on the right going into the city you get great views of the skyline. Branding is good and the Siemens Desiro 4-car stock has LCD displays, advertising and wifi. Seating is paired and there is much space given over to luggage racks. It is a very different system from the KTM lines, but at 55 ringgit one way, it doesn’t have fare integration with other parts of the system and is quite expensive.

In summary, KL has come a long way in urban rail as the momentum for integration and expansion gathers pace. Although the legacy of a fragmented system endures (this is not the ‘smooth’, user friendly system (physically or functionally) you find in other Asian cities), the different modes, coverage and direction make it interesting. If only KTM could be improved and fully integrated.



2007 © Robert Schwandl (UrbanRail.Net)