7th Anniversary of The Closure of The Singapore Railway

On 1 July 2011 just after midnight, as the last train driven by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, The Sultan of Johor out of Tanjung Pagar Railway Station arrived at Woodlands Train Checkpoint, 108 years of Singapore railway history came to a close, save for a 1.46km stretch from the Singapore-Malaysia border on the causeway to the buffer stop at the headshunt of Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

1 July 2018 also marks the first time on the anniversary that the closure with regards to rail transport was confirmed to be done in vain as connectivity between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur by the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR), first proposed in 2010 to be completed by 2020 after the announcement of the closure of the railway, is now indefinitely postponed, and the Singapore – Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System (RTS), first proposed in 2010 to be completed by 2018, is now projected to open in 2024 with no significant physical work commenced yet and the actual location and land lot of the RTS station in Johor Bahru still yet to be finalised.

Nevertheless, 7 years since, development is finally starting on certain stretches of the former railway in Singapore.

Tanjung Pagar Railway Station
presently known as former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Tanjung Pagar Railway Station is now the site of the future Cantonment MRT Station on the Circle Line Stage 6, closing the gap between HarbourFront and Marina Bay MRT Stations and to serve the future Greater Southern Waterfront area.

A new bus stop location for Bus Stop 14069 – Former Railway Stn (Keppel Road) is in place about 30 meters ahead of the current bus stop.

The current Bus Stop 14069 – Former Railway Stn (Keppel Road) is served by a temporary shelter.

The relocation will take place on 8 July 2018.

Seems like this will become the Former Railway Stn Former Bus Stop.

Scaffolding is installed on the exterior to support all the protruding structures.

The roof of the Parcel Office porch above the Kiriman Ekspres office has been removed.

Notice how the sign has a missing 6 prefix in front of the telephone number, which means that the sign predates 2002.

The Parcel Office porch above the shortcut to the Kiriman Ekspres counter and the waiting hall has wooden planks at the roof. However, it is not known if this is part of the support or that it is a replacement for the removed roof.

The facade of Tanjung Pagar Railway Station was not marred on my visit thanks to the open gate, probably to allow access to the truck on the left. However, I did not trespass into the station premise.

The car park is now taken up by a familiar temporary building structure reminiscent of any other MRT line in construction.

A small part of the URA car park is closed off for the Murnane Pipeline Project running between Tanjung Pagar Railway Station and Bukit Timah Railway Station.

The facade of Tanjung Pagar Railway Station, marred by the temporary building and an inactive oBike.

The M in future might stand for MRT.

The completely blocked facade of Tanjung Pagar Railway Station.

No signs are around to state what this empty building will be for, but my guess based on the glass door on this side is that it’s for a project site office.

The facade of Tanjung Pagar Railway Station from Spottiswoode Park Road seems impossible to get a good shot of now.

This side of the station looks cleaner though.

The former shortcut to the station canteens.

Most of the platform roof has also been sliced off and transplanted for storage while works on the Cantonment MRT Station are in progress.

The construction hoardings are in place throughout the length of the platform and further down to the signal cabin.

Kampung Bahru Yard
presently known as Nothing (no name defined for storage area) and Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal

The platform roofs are now in separate pieces and stored at the former site of the E&O and KTM Intercity coaches shed.

The former site of the goods lines and Royal Malaysian Customs is now taken by the Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal and future URA car park.

More information on the Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal was written in a separate blog post in March here.

Bukit Timah Railway Station
presently known as former Bukit Timah Railway Station

With the opening of the Downtown Line Stage 2, Bukit Timah Railway Station is now served by King Albert Park MRT Station with the bus stop taking this new namesake as well.

A sheltered walkway is also in place from the MRT station and bus stop to the station driveway.

Bridge 1871 looks like it had seen better days.

Heading up to Bridge 1861 and Bukit Timah Railway Station.

A new short concrete (?) path is in place on the old track alignment before Bridge 1861.

Not sure what this short path is for.

Bridge 1861 is the only structure not majorly affected by any development along the destroyed railway.

The old kilometer post at Bridge 1861 still remains, although a bit overgrown by some vines.

However, vandalism is rampant on Bridge 1861 with no effort by SLA to maintain the look of it.

The wooden sleepers after the bridge are also badly decayed, which is no longer fit for trains to run over them. But I guess it doesn’t matter now.

Heading back to Bukit Timah Railway Station.

The Station Master’s bungalow still stands.

More vandalism on the Murnane Pipeline Project hoardings, probably for some kind of photoshoot. Again, no effort by SLA to remove it properly.

The cold-looking Bukit Timah Railway Station with no life in it. The station is permanently out of bounds to the public.

New Work In Progress signs are around the station fence, however, there is no sign of any work in progress.

The signalling room, however, is open.

The siding is also no longer fit for trains to run on them. Bringing in a tamping machine or a tie straightener is also out of the question.

The old unused levers in the signalling room. The 6 left here are spare levers which were not connected to any equipment while the station was still in operation. As such, I do not see the point of keeping them as it is.

The broken token catcher from the siding is also lazily moved to the platform with no meaning.

The token catcher from the siding also has the arms broken, with no effort by SLA, URA or NHB to repair it to its original condition (which isn’t a very difficult job considering its original condition).

The white and black paint from the station sign is also showing obvious signs of decay, revealing the old blue sign, probably in another 7 years time.

The original northbound token catcher is also in quite a poor condition, with the main blue token sign missing.

The station plants have been trimmed, though they still look like a mini-forest as compared to the former pots (ie. broken due to their growth).

The seats at the waiting hall are still intact.

The glass windows at the Station Master’s Office have been removed.

The door which I used to walk in freely is now shut till who knows when.

On the fence lies a reminder of who is now in charge.

The very overgrown platform.

A last look at Bukit Timah Railway Station on the 7th anniversary of its fall.

Heading back down to Bukit Timah Road.

The original driveway to Bukit Timah Railway Station is now closed off for the Murnane Pipeline Project running between Tanjung Pagar Railway Station and Bukit Timah Railway Station.

Bukit Panjang Gate
presently known as Rail Corridor Test Track

Bukit Panjang Gate was the biggest railway crossing on the KTM Singapore Sector, spanning 6 lanes across Choa Chu Kang Road. It was also the only crossing with automatic barriers that came down at a few pushes of buttons as compared with the physical key-turning, gate-pushing and/or lever-pulling that the gate keeper had to do at Gombak Gate, Mandai Gate and Kranji Gate.

The road has been restored with all traces of tracks across the road removed.

Beside the gateman’s hut, the Rail Corridor Test Track takes a part of the original alignment to form a 400 meter running track with 4 types of surface materials to be used on the future Rail Corridor Trail.

Type 1: Grass and Gravel
Grass surface covered with a mix of fine gravel and sand

The Grass and Gravel type seems familiar as most parts of the railway alignment are in this condition as ballast from the trackbed are not properly removed. However, the gravel here are smaller than railway ballast.

Type 2: Fine Gravel
Fine agent bonded with organic agent

The Fine Gravel type consists of loose gravel smaller than the Grass and Gravel type.

Type 3: Porous Concrete
Concrete that drains away water easily

The Porous Concrete type feels similar to cycling tracks on older park connectors.

Type 4: Glow-in-the-Dark
Light-absorbing particles that capture ultra-violet rays during the day and create a glow effect at night

The Glow-in-the-Dark type has small stones on concrete, some of which are phosphorescent. The path feels like pavements in newer HDB estates.

The Glow-in-the-Dark effect is not obvious during the day, but some photo editing might simulate how it may look like at night.

(No, I wasn’t in the mood to stay there till night to get the actual shot.)

The two u-turning ends of the Rail Corridor Test Track are of the Grass and Gravel type.

Hmm, is this a lightning strike on the Rail Corridor Test Track?

More vandalism is seen here on the store room. It seems like those currently in charge do not care about the railway being vandalised since it is possibly the only places in Singapore where vandalism can be seen openly.

Despite there being no more railway, the sheltered walkway on the LRT-track-side has the shelter raised to 4.5 meters. This might be for future-proofing access to the land space. The most recent major use of this land space was for loading the 13 new Bombardier Innovia APM 100 cars onto the Bukit Panjang LRT tracks in 2014.

My vote for my favourite track type?

Type 5: Railway Track
Crushed granite trackbed with concrete sleepers and BS80A steel rails creating an avenue of efficient transport.

Can anyone tell me what the first word of Rail Corridor is?

Exactly.

Now that the HSR is gone (at least for the near future) and the RTS isn’t progressing much yet, cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia is no longer improving. From a railway fan’s point of view, I’ve already felt cheated when the proposed “shuttle buses” to link Woodlands Train Checkpoint to a “nearby MRT station” turned out to be existing SBSTransit and SMRT passing-through services, just with additional signs around the bus stops and the renaming of the bus’s looping point.

The KTM Singapore Sector today is a joke anyway, with almost everything in tact as it was 7 years ago – something very unlike Singapore with a rapid development progress.

Look at all the vandalism and building structures which are not kept in the condition that they were at in 2011, which wasn’t even good to begin with, and now it’s even worse. The KTM Singapore Sector today is probably the only place in Singapore where vandalism can thrive with the vandals not getting caught by the police or getting the structures washed off or repainted as efficiently as loanshark harassment on HDB walls or “creative” vandalism on MRT trains.

The KTM Singapore Sector is kept as it is almost thanks to people who are green advocates, and indeed lots of people were using the open space in the early days when trains ceased running, but where is everyone today?

Look again at all the photos above. Aside from Bridge 1861 which has been popular for photography since the days of the running trains anyway (and I doubt any of the 6 people there knew the significance of the day that they were on the bridge) and the 1 person sitting down on the grass listening to music at the Rail Corridor Test Track, do you see anybody else using the green space anywhere? And what’s the point of the same old corridor with a walking track in place instead of a railway track which could get people from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar in 28 minutes?

What a contrast to the massive crowds on the entire railway length and the station platforms on the weeks leading up to the railway closure. It’s as if almost no one remembered the railway today.

What a waste for the railway to have died in vain.

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