With the closure of Singapore’s historic Tanjong Pagar railway station in 2011, all trains out of Singapore now depart from the Woodlands Train Checkpoint. Here’s everything you need to know about leaving Singapore by train.
After the Singapore government closed Tanjong Pagar in 2011, northbound trains left from Woodlands Checkpoint, which lies just to the south of the causeway which joins Malaysia to Singapore. From there, the train would pass over the causeway, through Johor Bahru train station and from there onwards into Malaysia. At the end of June 2015, the Malaysian Government decided to stop this and instead all north bound trains now commence from Johor Bahru Station, replacing the old train service with a shuttle train service. Why did they do this? Good question.
What this means is that if you want to get a train from Singapore north through Malaysia, you have two choices. First, you can get to Woodlands Checkpoint and then get the shuttle train across to Johor Bahru station (JB Sentral) and then go and catch your actual train. The second (and easier) option is to get a bus from Woodlands SMRT in Singapore to Johor Bahru station (JB Sentral). See below for the details.
Getting to Woodlands Train Checkpoint
Woodlands Train Checkpoint is located in the northern part of Singapore near the Causeway that links Singapore to the city of Johor Bahru. The easiest way to get to Woodlands Train Checkpoint is to take the SMRT to Kranji Station then hop on bus #170 or #178 and alight at the aptly named “Woodlands Train Checkpoint” bus stop. If you’re coming by taxi or car, there is a designated drop-off point. Don't make the mistake of assuming that Woodlands SMRT station is near Woodlands Checkpoint - it isn't. If you end up at Woodlands SMRT buses #911 or #913 will take you to the checkpoint.
Woodlands Train Checkpoint does not look like a train station – in fact, you won’t even see train tracks until you’re through immigration. On the ground floor is the KTM Railway Ticketing Office. If you haven’t purchased your tickets in advance via www.ktmb.com.my, you can purchase tickets here up to 20 minutes before the train is scheduled to depart. Payment is by Singapore dollars only.
On the second level is a waiting area before you go through Customs & Immigration. The doors to this secure area open exactly 30 minutes before the train is scheduled to depart. The waiting area does not have public toilets or anywhere to eat, so there’s no reason to arrive early.
Customs & Immigration
One of the best things about leaving Singapore by train is how quick the immigration process is. First, you need to complete your Singapore departure card and have your passport stamped to show that you have left Singapore. Immediately after this is Malaysian Immigration where they will stamp your passport to show that you have entered Malaysia. Most nationalities are eligible for visa-free entry for tourism. There is no entry card to fill out for Malaysia, but they may scan your fingerprints. It’s also normal to have your luggage X-rayed.
Crossing by train
Once you’ve gone through all the immigration formalities, you will be at the shuttle train platform. The shuttle train costs S$5 for the five minute run! This will deposit you at JB Sentral from where you can get your real train into Malaysia.
Crossing by bus
Catch the SMRT to Woodlands station and then take bus #950 which will take you to direct to Johor Bahru (via immigration and customs as detailed above). The bus stops right by JB Sentral so you can then walk straight in and get your train. This is the far easier manner of getting between the two countries.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 27th July, 2015.