Medan – Binjai Travelling with Commuter Train

Spending a lot of time dwelling with Indian old and hectic trains and Jakarta frustrating trains, it’s time to get down a bit with a train in my city.

Medan is my home town, the capital city of North Sumatra Province, Indonesia. BInjai is the satellite city of Medan, located in the West of Medan about 10 km separating space between each border.

With the growing number of commuters from Binjai and around spending the daylight in Medan (working, studying, trading, shopping, etc) the Indonesian Railway Company (PT. KAI) finally decide to hit the market with the commuter train, using diesel fuel, by serving passengers between both city, that until that time, can only using land road to visit each city. I calculate about 17 km is the distance covered by Medan-Binjai train, connecting both cities downtown.

Named as Sri Lelawangsa, the train is comprised of 4 compartments with 1 locomotive. Short but it is make sense since the distance covered by the train will be less than 20 km. The advantage by using this train is that the train will carry the passengers into the heart of Medan City and Binjai too, so no need to take bus from the rural area to the downtown.

Medan - Binjai Commuter Train in Medan Railway Station (copyright Medan Magazine)


As the new commuter train to serve Medan – Binjai has been unveiled several years ago, I thought I would take my time to finally try it.
I went with my mother and my overjoyed little 4-years-old nephew (he is a big fan of train) in the afternoon and tracking for the 12.00 noon scheduled train leaving for Binjai. We purchased 3 tickets, only IDR 5000 per ticket (US$ 0,6) which is tangibly very cheap.

By 12.00 the train left Medan Railway Station

Train leaving Medan Station

Train leaving Medan Station

At that afternoon, I could say that scheduled train has about 70% load factor which is very good for outside-Java-island standard since 12.00 noon is surely not a commuter time and the train route is very short. The seats and the space are very good, windows, doors, woods, backing metals, and glass are very maintained. Oh yeah, since this is an economy train, there is no Air Conditioner. However, the open window above the main one pave ways for wind to come so we never feel hot inside.

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The vibe inside the train. My mother is on the right side while my little nephew is on the left one

My blowing nephew could not hide his excitement about the journey and he spent a lot of time watching the view nearby on the open window side. I of course always monitor him so part of his body will not be out of the window.

My little nephew on the open window, who was absolutely enjoying every moment during the train journey

My little nephew on the open window, who was absolutely enjoying every moment during the train journey

A bit tired

A bit tired

The train journey took about 40 minutes long. After crossing the hectic rural area of Medan city residences and roads, we were entering the Deli Serdang district (Sunggal area) which is less populated than Medan city. The view come across as area full of green paddy fields, corn fields, local wood houses, rivers, and open space. I somehow finally take the turn to enjoy the view while my nephew had been doing that since the very first moment train left the station.

Belawan River, the natural border between Medan city and Deli Serdang district

Belawan River, the natural border between Medan city and Deli Serdang district

Green paddy fields, Sunggal, Deli Serdang district

Green paddy fields, Sunggal, Deli Serdang district

We finally arrived in Binjai station, which is close to BInjai city downtown. The old-fashioned station is quite clean and well-maintained, it is good to walk down and stay for some rest after experiencing the first train journey we’ve ever done from our hometown to Binjai. I heard a story that the station building has been existed since the Nederland colonial era in Indonesia. It was a bit sleepy compared to Medan station and other busy stations in Jakarta area, but for many reasons, I like ‘normal’ stations.

After take some rest, we then went to the downtown using motorized rickshaw (becak motor) in the front of the station. That’s the end of our train journey diary, hope you enjoy my story plus the simple but entertaining pics. Regards

Moment of arriving in Binjai Railway Station

Moment of arriving in Binjai Railway Station

My mother and my nephew posed in the front of Binjai Station

My mother and my nephew posed in the front of Binjai Station

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5 thoughts on “Medan – Binjai Travelling with Commuter Train

  1. Hello! Nice description of the way. With my boyfriend we plan to travel from Medan to Binjai by train and then with bus to Bukit Lawang. Do you think this is a good choice? Where could I get timetables Medan-Binjai? Thank you for info. katja

    • Hi Katja, nice to know you
      As your destination is Bukit Lawang, I am not suggesting you to go there by bus as they are public / economy bus which at times will cover A LOT of passengers till it can’t cover them again 🙂 Thus it could be uncomfortable to some personals, yeah things like smoke, noise, etc..

      I’d rather give you consideration to go with travel bus / mini bus if you are looking for comfortable environment during your travel, where you can see the views or take some time to sleep without any noises.
      Some travels exist in Medan near Pinang Baris Bus Station, not sure if there’s any in Binjai but I believe they are there.
      As with in any other country we travel in, make sure that the driver is ready and will not be engaged in any speed action during the travel.

      However if you want experience traditional public society, you can choose bus instead. Don’t worry, locals are very friendly (even if they can’t speak english 🙂 )… Having said that, the most thing I always bear in mind when traveling with public/economy bus is safety. That is why I’m not suggesting you go to Bukit Lawang by bus in the first place

      For more information check this out : http://wikitravel.org/en/Bukit_Lawang

    • For train from Medan to Binjai, I think you can use it as transport. Then in Binjai just look for van or minibus to Bukit Lawang…you can ask the officer in station or the motorized rickshaw drivers outside the Binjai Railway Station

      Train Journey from Medan to Binjai is a non-Air-Conditioner, but it is warmly comfortable and of course very cheap (US$ 0,5 🙂 )

      As for train timetable from Medan to Binjai and vice versa, here you are :

      No KA Departure/Berangkat Arrival/Tiba Train Name
      Tr ID Dari/From Time/Jam To Time/Jam
      ======================================================================
      U 22 Medan 05.00 WIB Binjai 05.37 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 26 Medan 08.30 WIB Binjai 09.07 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 28 Medan 10.00 WIB Binjai 10.37 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 30 Medan 12.30 WIB Binjai 13.07 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 32 Medan 15.20 WIB Binjai 15.57 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 34 Medan 17.00 WIB Binjai 17.37 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      KLB5 Binjai 06.45 WIB Medan 07.22 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 25 Binjai 09.15 WIB Medan 09.52 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 27 Binjai 11.35 WIB Medan 12.12 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 29 Binjai 14.30 WIB Medan 15.07 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      U 31 Binjai 16.15 WIB Medan 16.52 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA
      KLB7 Binjai 21.00 WIB Medan 21.37 WIB SRI LELAWANGSA

      Not sure if the train KLB7 from Binjai to Medan above (the last) is still exist, please check again in the railway station.

      I hope this can help. Enjoy your traveling 🙂

  2. Hi… my husband wants to visit Binjai and thinking to go by train, since hes never experienced going by train here. Just wanna ask, what to do in Binjai. And if we wanna go to Bukit Lawang how far is it from Binjai and how much does it cost if we go by public bus. Thank u.

    • Hi Elizabeth, hopefully your husband has a nice train trip from Medan to Binjai. It is a nice train, not high class one but fairly good according to its very cheap price.
      Actually Binjai is a regular city, not a special tourism destination. From railway station, if you go through Sudirman Street it will take you to Lapangan Merdeka (Merdeka Square) BinjaiIt has good pedestrian in the main street (Jenderal Sudirman Street) so a good way to explore city center. Walking around the city, sightseeing, eating foods near the square.

      As for Bukit Lawang, it is around 80 km distance from Binjai. Big Public bus , but mind you it could be sometimes very crowded. So except if you want to enjoy it, I suggest you go with public minibus for more comfort travel. There are fairly number of minibus to Bukit Lawang, they pass that Sudirman Street. Actually they start from Pinang Baris Bus Station (Terminal Pinang Baris) in Medan, but since you start from Binjai, you could wait for them near Merdeka Square / Sudirman Street. People around Sudirman Street/Merdeka Square should be pleased to help you find or identify the minibus to take you to Bukit Lawang 🙂
      Having said that, if the minibus drivers saw foreigners by the street, they will stop and perhaps ask you “To Bukit Lawang?” 😀

      From Binjai Railway Station to Sudirman Street / Binjai Square you could take a motorized rickshaw, shall cost you around IDR 10.000.

      Cost for big public bus shall around IDR 10.000 – IDR 20.000, while cost for public chartered minibus I mentioned above shall be around IDR 15.000 – IDR 25.000, you could bargain if they mention high fee.

      Remember, public big bus only take you to the bus station in Bukit Lawang. You have to use another transportation like hired motorcycle or rickshaw to the Bukit Lawang river/tourism object which shall cost around IDR 10.000 – IDR 15.000 Not sure about the minibus, perhaps they will directly transport you to Bukit Lawang tourism object instead of bus station.

      To read more information about Bukit Lawang, check this link out : http://wikitravel.org/en/Bukit_Lawang

      Cheers and enjoy your trip 🙂

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