Empty on arrival: KTMB’s Skypark Link


The Skypark Link is the newest addition to state railway operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) portfolio. Launched on 1 May 2018, the Skypark Link is an airport express service running between KL Sentral and Subang Airport (now branded as “Skypark“) with an intermediate stop in Subang Jaya.

The line makes use of an older KTMB alignment that ran between the former Subang Terminal 1 and Subang Jaya station. Initially un-electrified and meant to transport jet fuel to the fuel plant by the former Terminal, the line is now double tracked and electrified, and curves off to the east of the airfield, over Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang on an elevated viaduct, curving left and running parallel to the airfield’s maintenance complex, before terminating at a newly built elevated station situated by the car-park opposite the Skypark terminal (formerly Terminal 3).

The line is Malaysia’s second airport rail line, as well as the first not run by ERL or a privatised concessionaire. This naturally results in a few notable differences from the more established and high profile KLIA Express, which will be explored below.

First published 29.4.2019.  Updated 25.1.2023.
2023 update: The Skypark Link will be suspended from 15.2.2023 onwards.

Service Pattern

The service runs on a timetable with frequencies between 60 minutes to 180 minutes, with 16 trains per direction each day, giving a total of 32 services per day. This makes it closer to a timetabled intercity/regional service rather than a regular express/commuter service.

Ticket prices

Given that it is branded and run as an airport express, the fares are higher than the regular Komuter services –

Travel SectorCash Fare (MYR)Cashless Fare (MYR)
KL Sentral – Skypark Terminal11.0010.00
KL Sentral – Subang Jaya5.004.50
Subang Jaya – Skypark Terminal5.004.50

2023 update: The ticket prices were reduced from 9.6.2022 onwards –

Travel SectorCash Fare (MYR)Cashless Fare (MYR)
KL Sentral – Skypark Terminal4.003.50
KL Sentral – Subang Jaya2.902.60
Subang Jaya – Skypark Terminal2.202.00

How are the trains like?

The service utilises existing 3 – carriage Class 83 commuter trains that formerly formed part of the Komuter fleet.

While these units used to sport a blue-yellow livery with longitudinal seating, the sets used for the Skypark service now wear the orange Skypark Link branding with two-tone stripes. The interior also was not spared the change, with Skypark Link branding adorning the wall panels and the route map.

The seats on the other hand have been changed to regular intercity style seating with grab handles, taken directly from the older Class 81 train sets. At least one other set still retains the original longitudinal seating, albeit with orange coloured cloth coverings.

The trains are also outfitted with luggage racks, a prerequisite for any airport rail service.

Unlike the regular Komuter trains, the service departs from the Intercity Platforms 1 and 2 at KL Sentral, but shares the Komuter platforms at Subang Jaya. This arrangement allows for dedicated faregates to be used to charge the higher fares, with the faregates being signposted accordingly at Subang Jaya station.

Connection to Subang Skypark

The Skypark Terminal station is located across the main road from the terminal within the terminal’s open air car park. Accessing the terminal from the station (and vice versa) is in the form of a covered walkway that leads from the station, and up a pre-existing pedestrian bridge across the main road which connects to the first level of the Skypark Terminal.

While common sense would have seen the walkway cut directly through the car park in a straight line, here the walkway actually skirts round the car park, thus adding at least 3 minutes to the walk as compared to if you actually walked straight across.

There is also a lift built into the pedestrian bridge which can be quite slow. Not really helpful if you’re rushing for your flight.

There have been complaints that the airport station is not visible and convenient to access but these have been brushed off by KTMB. There were also plans to built a connecting mall on the site of the car park ala NuSentral and KL Sentral, but really now, must we always have to build a mall for better physical connections?

What do you really get?

So what do you really get for the ticket price? To be very frank, nothing much. For RM 11 you get a very infrequent airport link from the city centre, a two decade old commuter train set with minimal refurbishments, and nothing else.

Despite the amount of advertising KTMB has done for the service, each service probably only carries at most 5 passengers in a train that can carry up to 406. While other specially branded airport rail links provide a significant amount of frills, convenience, and ambience, the Skypark Link provides neither. For example, the KLIA Express offers city-check in, wifi on board, and a VIP service; On the other hand the Skypark Link has inconvenient frequencies, dingy trains, and an inconvenient linkage with the terminal itself.

The higher average ticket prices of flights from Subang Airport also mean that the Skypark Link’s target market are unlikely to consider the train as a form of transport to the airport in the first place. Instead, they would prefer to rely on their own cars, Grab, and Taxis. This is despite the fact that the RM 11 fare is cheaper than a Grab or Taxi fare to the Terminal.

Granted, the train would not be held back by the infamous traffic on the Federal Highway and on Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang, but then again neither is KTMB’s Klang Valley mainline known for its punctuality. Likewise, while the quiet and undisturbed ride is pleasing, it is instead a very glaring symptom of the low ridership problem.

At best, the service is an express sometimes-delayed-commuter line. At worse, it is an unjustified infrastructural expenditure.

It is quite baffling how KTMB and the Ministry of Transport thought this was a good idea, especially given the RM 521 million spent on the project. KTMB appears to have projected a daily ridership of 3000 passengers a day but clearly this is far from reality – The reported daily ridership in late November 2018 hovered around 150 passengers, and with 32 services per day the average ridership per service is a very sad 4.68 passengers.

Either the initial projection was sound but limited by present operational constraints, or KTMB simply does not have any business sense altogether.

Final Thoughts

KTMB is already bleeding money and the Skypark Link service is clearly costing KTMB more money everyday. Perhaps a shut down or conversion to a regular Komuter service with increased frequencies would be a better option instead. But that would be something for KTMB to ponder on.

In the meantime, I have to say the service is actually a pretty decent private train for double the regular Komuter ticket price.







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