bukit timah railway station

May 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Heritage, Stories, Transport

By Stephanie, 17 May 2011.

The recent news about the closure of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station has created quite a stir amongst many Singaporeans, netizens and budding photographers who wanted to visit both the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Bukit Timah Railway Station (now functioning as a passing loop railway station between Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands) before operation ceases for good (with effective 1st July 2011). That is just less than 2 months away! This was a cause of concern for many heritage and nature lovers who were afraid that the government might demolish the stations for commercial development. As we all know, land is extremely scarce in Singapore and any available prime land (especially at Bukit Timah) is most likely to be snapped immediately either to build another expensive condominium or a retail mall. Well, money talks. Click here to read about a proposal, proposed by The Green Corridor, to turn the stations, along with its railway tracks, into an eco-tourism attraction. Thumbs up! :)

Fortunately, the government has assured us that the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station will be gazetted as a National Monument under the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) as it sees the importance of having to preserve a place that had played such a significant role in our transportation history. In addition, the Bukit Timah Railway Station will also be gazetted as a conserved building under the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). In its proposal, The Green Corridor has suggested turning the station and parts of its rail tracks into a locomotive museum, something which I honestly think is a fantastic idea as I’ve been very impressed by the few train museums that I had visited overseas.

P/S: Want to get Insider information about the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station? If so, do not hesitate to sign up for the special tour organized by the PMB as registration is on a first-come-first-serve basis.Register here now!

By order of KTMB, no photography or recoding is allowed. However, “nothing is impossible“. Be polite and ask the station master for his permission to take pictures of the railway station and its premises. Chances are, he will be more than willing to oblige with your request! :)

A little about its history

According to the information provided by Heritage Trails, the Bukit Timah Railway Station was opened back in 1915, as part of the Singapore-Kranji Railway that ran from the original train terminal at Tank Road to Kranji and Woodlands before proceeding into Malaysia. The original railway line also ran past Cuppage Road, Newton Circus and Cluny Road. Owned by the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) since 1918, there railway tracks and train stations are properties of the Malaysian Government.

The terminal station was later relocated from Tank Road to Tanjong Pagar (built in 1932). This move had resulted in the eventual closure of the original line as there was simply a lack of demand. There were some changes made to the immigration policies in 1993 and this had resulted in the conversion of Bukit Timah station from a pit-stop to a passing loop station. Hence, the station is currently only used for crossings.

*Source: All info from Heritage Trails and Wikipedia

The little office that belongs to the station master and staff of KTM

Levers to control the changing of railway tracks. Do not play with them!

Truth to be told, I never knew about the existence of the little-known Bukit Timah Railway Station until I read about the recent news of its impending closure from other blogs. So clueless! Our interest to check out the less trodden places of attraction in Singapore had prompted us to make a trip (probably, our first and last) to Bukit Timah Railway Station so that we can check out the sights and sounds as we feared that it might be gone for good. Thankfully, our initial fears were uncalled for.

Lady luck must have been on our side as we were very fortunate to have witnessed the exchange of key tokens between the station master and the staff onboard the train. This exchange of key tokens signifies the green light for the train to proceed from the station. As the train sped by, we couldn’t help but to feel extremely exhilarated and ecstatic to stand within such close proximity  to a fast-moving train (contrary to some blog reports, this train didn’t slow down during this exchange)! The gust of wind was so strong that I was a little fearful that I might fall, head first, into the tracks – no thanks to the series of freak MRT accidents – , nonetheless, it was such a thrill!

Being born in a generation where we take planes more than trains (not including MRT!), I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t sat onboard the train to Malaysia in close to 2 decades! Nevertheless, I’m adding a train ride from Tanjong Pagar to JB on my “TO DO” checklist.  A must-do before 1st July!

All pictures were taken with my point-and-shoot compact camera (low budget!). For more professional pictures and fascinating stories about the railway tracks (including the now defunct Jurong line, which I must explore one day) or the train journey, do visit other sites such as the Photojournalist and The Long & Winding Road. Enjoy! :)

Source credit: the girl at the traffic light junction

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