Monday, May 16, 2011



Because from 1st July 2011, the southern most station on the north south railway system that has been running since the early 20th century will cease to function. It will be closed down though the station building and hopefully all other features will continue to stand with the hope that preservation and heritage consideration will take the upper hand. The Malaysian and Singapore government have come to an agreement to settle the long standing issue of properties and rights through the meeting of both Prime Ministers late last year. Meaning that the station and all the land that stretches alongside the track from Singapore side of the Straits of Johore till the station at Tanjung Pagar will be transferred to Singapore no doubt with agreement for development and concession etc.

We were on a visit specifically to view the station and discover its features recently as members of Badan Warisan Malaysia. No doubt we have seen the station several times during our visits to Singapore before but frankly never had a closer look or bothered to understand its historical, economic, tourism, political etc contributions to the country. This opportunity comes however at its closing end.

There is no doubt a feeling of nostalgia and regret but then seeing the existing conditions of the station building and its abandoning features it is like fate accomplished as though we have expected that mission.  

In one respect we go all out to convince UNESCO for the support and upholding of Malacca and Penang as heritage cities or centres, here we forget the treasures that exists within. Political exigencies and long standing agreements no doubt clouded the issues, but not maximizing the existence of an outstanding and fully featured building like the Tanjung Pagar Railway Station is an injustice. It would have attracted tourists many folds as our first base to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh Railway Stations remain two other historical buildings which must not be left to suffer the same fate. Existing but without functions and care would only deteriorate their conditions.

The full agreement of the transfer of the station and the land stretching from the Singapore side of the Johore Causeway till Tanjung Pagar has yet to be disclosed  but already there is an agreement to develop the properties by both government.

Be that as it may, what can you see at this railway station built with inputs from overseas and locally and declared opened on 3/3/1932? Two marble based reliefs at the entrance and in the hall designed by an Italian architect Rudolfo Nolli depicting Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport stand out plus several panels  reliefs. Two long station platforms gave allowance for long KTM coaches to halt there for the convenience of passengers. Once there was a hotel at the station just as there were at Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. It has been closed down. Cafeterias and a surau added to the existing features found at the station.       

 The long platforms on both side of the tracks, able to take the longest coaches that KTM train can organized with protection for the passengers from sun and rain.

A section of the railway building that you see as you disembarked from the train and walked towards the exit.

Don't know what the pail is used for but the 'stopper' with its red marker was once used to halt the locomotive should it moved forward even after halting.

   Notice the wording F M S R on the marble based relief in the high pitched foyer of the station. The Malay hut is a recent addition as a  promotional piece. Never realizing that the mural earlier on commissioned and done by an Italian architect have depicted Malayan
( Malaysia's) early and even current activities

                  Rubber industry           Padi planting
I would not like to guess how much such a drawing would cost if they are so desired knowing that they are one of a kind.

  The frontage of the Tanjung Pagar Railway Station as it is today.

 Come 1st July KTM coaches will halt at Woodlands where all passengers will disembark and the custom as well as immigration inspection will be carried out. Later KTM trains will not cross into Singapore and will halt at the Johore Bharu station only.  

   At Tiong Baru our walkabout took us to the prewar terrace houses which as seen afford space then and now. No wonder the area is much sought for.

    The tug boat moves on the Singapore River by the side of the former Post Office which has become a Fullerton Hotel

Our visit to Singapore took in also some of the historical and heritage sites and certainly Singapore Heritage Society and the government have not spared to make the island worth a visit for those who wished to walk back into the past while helping to escalate property and land cost. Many public buildings too have been converted into  commercial centers with added features and beautification.


Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

Pak Non

Personally, I am sad to see this station go. For the life of me, I just cannot understand how and why the Government has decided to forego the Tg Pagar station. I'm just speechless...

Al-Manar said...

There are so many old landmarks slowly disappearing, leaving older generation like us with nostalgia. I would not be able to count the number of nights I spent at the Station Hotel. The memory lives on.

KotaStar said...

Sdr Azizi,

Yes,tapi apa kita boleh buat. Semuanya telah diatur hanya menunggu masa untuk KTM pindah terus ke Johore.

I am glad that we had the chance to see the station and realized why we should hold on to landmarks or otherwise we will lose our heritage and history too.

KotaStar said...

Sdr Al Manar,

Thank you for yr comment.Yes, you must have stopped there when on the way to Jesselton or back. Glad that I have posted the story and I believe many others of our age group would have fond memories of being in Singapore in the 50's and 60's. You are the second person who have stated so. Would you have any pictures taken then at the station? WE discovered too the old Cathay building has been pulled down. In its place a hotel and a shopping mall. The 'rendezvou' restaurant at Bras Basah Road which then offered the best Nasi Padang has disappeared too , tempatnya diganti dengan sebuah hotel lagi.Salam