We will soon be able to take a train ride from KL to the Malaysian-Thai border in just four hours and 15 minutes, but it’s unclear when exactly will the KL-Padang Besar Electric Train Service (ETS) begin operations.

It was reported last Thursday that KTM announced the ETS service will officially start from July 1 in time for the Hari Raya balik kampung rush, but the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has yet to give the green light, The Sun reports.

SPAD officials told the free paper that there are several matters that need to be sorted out, including commissioning and ensuring the safety aspects on the 329 km electrified double track and the China-made trains. When contacted, SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said the July 1 launch date is doubtful.

“They (KTM) cannot start until we commission their trains. It is true that we have not given the green light,” said Syed Hamid.

SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal explained that KTM’s July 1 target date was based on the extension of the current KL-Ipoh service to Padang Besar using today’s Korean-made trains with a top speed of 140 km/h.

“Nothing has been finalised. We still need to complete the commissioning of the double-track. Even the new batch of China-made electric trains which can touch 160 km/h are yet to undergo full testing. So it will take some time,” he said. Asked if SPAD could do all of that before Raya, he said: “It all depends but we don’t want to rush anything since safety is our top priority.”

The KL-Padang Besar trains have been undergoing trials since early this year was originally scheduled to be operational in September. Last week, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that KL-Butterworth ETS services will be ready next month.