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01-24-2008, 12:01 AM #1
Malayan Railway Station in Singapore
Last Sunday was the second time that I took the overnight train with hcyong after watching the finals of the Malaysia Open 2008. The first was during the World Championships last year. Hitherto I used to take the night coach home.
We started at about 9 pm from KL and took about 10 hours to reach Singapore the next morning. This time I managed to get more used to the moving train and got more sleep than the first. This arrangement is just nice for us to proceed direct to the office on Monday with some time to spare and to take breakfast.
I'm always impressed with the Malayan Railway station in Singapore. With the recent sprucing up of the place, I took the opportunity of taking some pics.
But you may wish to know more about this historical railway line which cuts right into the heart of Singapore. When Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, this railway line remained a contentious issue because the then British colonial government decided to let Malaysia own and run the railway service. Singapore was unable to do much about the decision and had proposed a joint-development of the long stretch of land occupied by the track but to no avail.
The following description by Bonny Tan provides interesting reading:
The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, located along Keppel Road, is the port of call for trains heading to and from Singapore. Constructed in 1932, it is the terminus for the West Coast line of the KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) Railway line.
Built in 1932 on reclaimed swampland, the station's inaugural opening was conducted by Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith on 3 March 1932. It became the southernmost end of the Malayan Railway, serving the needs of Singapore town, particularly the transport of goods from its harbour. The station became one of the latest of the main terminus along the West Coast Line to be completed and thus had some of several unique designs of its time, both in the mechanics of its system and in the design of the station. Until 18 December 1988, friends and relatives could say their goodbyes at the platform, paying a mere 20 cents.
The station's architectural style is strongly European and said to be influenced by the architect of Finland's Helsinki Station, Eliel Saarinen. The entrance to the station is marked by four towering statues, symbols of Malaya's economic pillars. They are named Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry; each personification holding symbols unique to their character. Just below the eaves of the windows, lionheads stand guard whilst a stately clock marks time in Roman numerals. A large dome raises the roof of the station's lobby. High up a wall in this lobby are the antiquated initials for the Federated Malay States Railway and the FMSR's crests. Colourful mosaic panelling stretching against the rest of the walls, portray Malayan economic scenes of the past: tongkangs by the harbour, tin-mining, bullock carts in rice fields. The mosaic was actually made of coloured rubber through a patented process created by the Singapore Rubber Works. The ticketing counter is made of solid teak and beside it is the Habib Railway Bookstore, established since 1936.
It is the only station along the Malayan Railway which has buffer stops, with this particular set designed by Ransomes & Rapier. The signalling system operated at the railway was inherited from the colonial government and is typical of that used in the United Kingdom. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is one of four major signal cabins along the West Coast line, the others being at Gemas, Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth. The Singapore station has a 24-lever box which is mechanically operated.
01-24-2008, 12:37 AM #2
I remember travelling on this line when I was very young. It was very curious because most of it was on a single rail track. Trains going in the opposite direction had to coordinate at stations where there would be two sets of railtracks.
It did take most of the day to get from KL to S'pore. Kinda boring unless you like trains!
01-24-2008, 12:47 AM #3
350km from KL to S'pore.
that means, the train moving 35km per hour......
did the train stops at every station? or you are taking the express train?
01-24-2008, 12:59 AM #4
01-24-2008, 01:02 AM #5
I took this train ride from KL to Singapore in 1957 and slept all throughout the journey. If it is the same old type of train I might travel on it again, just for the memories. They should keep this station as an heritage site.
01-24-2008, 01:07 AM #6
nice pics mr loh. very high ceilings! cool.
i think it was ten hours. yep, trains take their own sweet time. i dont know why but i like trains. i could read a book for hours on a train. i would even enjoy sleeping on a train (never done that before though). it is like a big cradle. constant movement. hahahahaha
01-24-2008, 01:08 AM #7
01-24-2008, 01:49 AM #8
This time, I became a veteran and hardly woke up to witness the same night scenes of dark moving shawdows and flickering lights again.
But I did overhear some noises during one of the earlier stops. Women voices in Cantonese talked loudly complaining why they did not have enough seats, not beds, for those who wanted them. And those voices ended directly opposite my bed, but I did not draw my curtains to see who they were. One lady was asking another to sleep in the lower bunk bed while she would sit beside her for the entire journey to Singapore.
Their top bunk was occupied by a young Korean male whose male friend was also sleeping on the bunk above me. They must be quite disturbed by the incessant talking of the ladies.
Indeed, when I awoke the next morning I saw an old lady sitting in a crouch position on the side of the bed, still talking to her friend who was lying on the bed with the curtains half drawn. This lady was tough!
The Malayan Railway station in Singapore was in a dilapidated state not too long ago and what a welcome change it made with its recent sprucing-up. Thus my enthusiasm to take as many pictures with my mini Olympus digital camera.
And indeed, it should be preserved for future generations!
Last edited by Loh; 01-24-2008 at 01:59 AM.
01-24-2008, 01:58 AM #9
..here's one pic (interior) of the coach/train, which Loh (and hcyong) took right after last yr's WC in KL...Not sure if this is the same one which Loh (and hcyong) took again this past week...Or if it's the same one which taneepak took, over 50 yrs ago...
Rest of his story can be found here (post #48):
Last edited by ctjcad; 01-24-2008 at 02:01 AM.
01-24-2008, 02:09 AM #10
Thanks Chris for bringing back sweet memories.
Same interior, same bed. This time as in the previous, hcyong was extremely thoughtful for booking the lower bed for senior citizens like us who would find difficulty climbing up the top bunk.
I've almost forgotten this one!
01-24-2008, 02:15 AM #11
01-24-2008, 02:19 AM #12
01-24-2008, 02:25 AM #13
My office is near the railway station and go there for lunch often at the shop furthest away from the entrance:
2 things are recommended there:
- Nasi Ayam Goreng (Malay-styled Chicken Rice but fried with sambal chili)
- Instant Mee Goreng (fried instant noodle)
It is always a strange feeling that you are physically in Singapore but inside a Malaysia territory!
Last edited by Linus; 01-24-2008 at 02:33 AM.
01-24-2008, 02:30 AM #14
01-24-2008, 04:59 AM #15
Nice caption and photos Loh. You did manage to take pictures of the details which i missed out when i took the Train ages ago. I did went to the train station but didnt really have time to look at the building. Was off in a hurry. Yes the ride was indeed a long ride. But it was fun as well.
01-24-2008, 05:09 AM #16
07-06-2009, 10:14 AM #17
Project Work on Conservation of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Hi! Please do help to do this survey for my A'levels Project Work on the conservation of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Your help and truthful response is deeply appreciated!!!
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