08 TRAIN: Malaysia Railways(I)

The world railway transportation system started in the western countries to assist the industrial revolution. The first electrified trains open in Germany, 1881.

Geographically, Malaysia consists of Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo(Sabah & Sarawak). At the moment, only Terengganu and Sarawak states do not have railway system. In simple division, the railway infrastructure in Malaysia can be divided as follows:-

Metre gauge railway:-

  • Peninsular Malaysia
    • West Coast railway
    • East Coast railway
  • Sabah

Standard gauge railway:-

  • Ekspress Rail link (ERL)
    • KLIA Ekspress
  • Light Rapid Transit (LRT)
    • Kelana Jaya line (previously known as PUTRA line)
    • Ampang line (previously known as STAR line)
    • Sri Petaling line (previously known as STAR line)
  • Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
    • Kajang line
  • Monorail
    • KL Monorail line
    • Malacca Aerorail

Funicular Rail System:-

  • Penang Hill Railway

>>This writing will focus on Metre Gauge Railways of Malaysia.


Malaysian train system history starts way back in 1885. The first railway line was constructed between Taiping and Port Weld (Kuala Sepetang) during the Malaya era in 1885 when it was first built to transport tin. In 1886, the railway line expanded to Kuala Lumpur and Klang. In 1891, a new line was constructed between Seremban and Port Dickson.

Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) is the operator of Peninsular railway line. It was previously known as the Federated Malay States Railways (FMSR) and the Malayan Railway Administration (MRA). It acquired its current name in 1962 and corporatised in 1992, owned by Malaysian government.

 The first diesel locomotive entered service in 1957 and the railcars entered service in 1960. The last steam locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1974. In 1995, the first electrified trains operated in west coast from Port Klang to Sentul and Rawang to Seremban with KTM Komuter. Double tracking and electrification of west coast line started from 2007 in stages and it was completed in 2014 as ETS.

Currently, there are two train lines in Peninsular Malaysia. The West Coast line starts from northern Malaysia connecting the State Railway of Thailand, to southern Malaysia connecting Woodlands Train Checkpoint in Singapore. The East Coast line branches off from the West Coast line at Gemas, running to Tumpat in Kelantan.

There were three stamp issues released by Pos Malaysia to commemorate 100th years of KTM, 125th years of KTM and ETS on 1st June 1985, 22nd June 2010 and 20th March 2018 respectively.

KTM100 Composite FDC with concordant cancellations of TAIPING and KUALA SEPETANG marking the first rail line in Peninsular Malaysia.
KTM125 FDC with 4v stamps
KTM125 FDC with 5v stamps from special stamp booklet.
KTM125 FDC with MS
Back image of FDC showing company logo of FMSR(1885), MRA(1948) and KTMB 1985,1992
KTM125 FDC with overprint MS during Bangkok Stamp Exhibition 2010.
KTM125 FDC with overprint MS during Phila Nippon Stamp Exhibition 2011.
ETS FDC with 3V stamps and concordant philately bureau cancellation of IPOH,KUALA LUMPUR and SEREMBAN(the three main stations in central region of Peninsular Malaysia). Note also the respective’s station manager signatures as well as stamp designer signature.
ETS FDC with MS.Concordant cancellations.Note the PADANG BESAR(terminal station at Northern Malaysia) and GEMAS(terminal station at Southern Malaysia) of West Rail line.
Pos Malaysia ETS FDC with Thailand World Stamp Exhibition 2018 overprint MS.
Philately Society Malaysia souvenir cover with Thailand World Stamp Exhibition 2018 overprint MS.


Sabah train system history starts way back in 1896. The first railway line was constructed between Bukau River, north to Beufort and and south to the port of Weston when it was first built to transport tobacco. Sabah State Railway (SSR) department is currently operating the only train line in Borneo Island in Sabah. Currently the 134km rail line is linking Tanjung Aru near Kota Kinabalu and Tenom in interior area of Sabah.

A nice stamp issue on trains in Sabah was released on 28th December 2015 by Pos Malaysia.

FDC with concordant PO cancellations of each stations
FDC of stamps and MS with concordant PO cancellations of each stations.
FDC with overprint MS during Thailand 32th Asian International Stamp Exhibition 2016

Hope you enjoy this fascinating Malaysian train stamps series!

What’s next? High Speed Rail (HSR) ? Read these links……


We hope for the better Malaysian infrastructures! Stay tune!

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