Travellers turn to trains to beat checkpoint jams

The Shuttle Tebrau train - which runs between Woodlands checkpoint and JB Sentral, with the trip taking just five minutes - has been particularly popular this festive season.
The Shuttle Tebrau train - which runs between Woodlands checkpoint and JB Sentral, with the trip taking just five minutes - has been particularly popular this festive season.ST FILE PHOTO

Tickets for Shuttle Tebrau selling fast, as are those for buses and flights to Malaysia for year-end holidays

Train, coach and flight tickets to Malaysia are selling fast as many make plans to head north for their Christmas and New Year holidays.

Amid reports of heavy jams on the Causeway this holiday season, the Shuttle Tebrau train - which runs between Woodlands checkpoint and JB Sentral, with the journey taking just five minutes - has been particularly popular. Many services today and tomorrow are sold out.

Malaysian rail operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu launched the service in July, with seven daily trips from both stops. Each can carry about 320 passengers.

Seats on coach services to destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands are limited but available, a check with three bus operators here revealed.

Grassland Express and Tours operations manager Steven Chew said sales are up by about 10 per cent this year-end season compared with last year's, but added that Causeway traffic jams have been worse than usual.

"Usually, the buses can clear Singapore Customs in about 30 minutes. But now, they can get stuck in a jam for up to two hours," he said. "A lot of customers have complained about the jams, but it cannot be helped."

Air tickets are still available. But according to Tigerair and Jetstar, which fly to cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, flights for this month are almost full, in line with the usual high demand during the year-end peak travel period.

Meanwhile, Land Transport Authority traffic cameras showed jams on both sides of the Causeway and the Second Link yesterday.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said on Tuesday that traffic volume at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints was expected to build up from yesterday and continue until next Sunday.

Sales manager Goh Hui Yi, 32, has decided to fly to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday instead of taking a coach after reading about the recent jams. She said: "It's more expensive, but I think it's worth it to save time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'Travellers turn to trains to beat checkpoint jams'. Print Edition | Subscribe