Restored Bukit Timah Railway Station
On 1 July 2022, Bukit Timah Railway Station was reopened after being restored for the past 2 years, now operating as a community space around the midpoint of the Rail Corridor between Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Kranji MRT Viaducts Access Point. I had no idea that there was a launching event happening during my visit, as I was just on my usual annual visit down the former KTM Singapore Sector. Here’s what I saw on the first day of operations of the restored Bukit Timah Railway Station as a community space.
In this article, I will be using terms that KTM used before 1 July 2011 and are still using, which may be different from the published names as stated around the site today.
Bukit Timah Railway Station Exterior
The walls and bricks of Bukit Timah Railway Station have been cleaned up, and the Porter’s Room which was formed by walling up the northern end of the Passenger Waiting Hall has now been removed, revealing the ticket counter. The growing trees as seen from 2014 to 2021 has also been cleared, though some grass remains on the ballast.
Replica maintenance trolleys are also placed on the loop line and siding, reminiscent of how the existing KTM Wickham trolleys (P02 series) look like.
The station driveway has also been restored, though I did not really get a good look at how it really looks like since the event tentage was still up.
An information board on Bukit Timah Railway Station is placed by the side of the station building near the Station Master’s Office. Notably, the extension for the signal room was documented, but not how the 2 offices were originally separated – 1 for the Ticket Office and 1 for the Station Master’s Office.
Station Master’s Office
The Station Master’s Office of Bukit Timah Railway Station was opened during my visit as the opening event was ongoing.
The cabinet inside the Station Master’s Office has been kept and repainted.
The ticket window has also been revealed properly now with the Porter’s Room dismantled.
The wall which the token machines were in front of now have an electrical cabinet mounted on it.
The Station Master’s Office will usually be closed to visitors.
The flagpoles on the platform remain empty.
Passenger Waiting Hall
The Passenger Waiting Hall now looks symmetrical again as the Porter’s Room has been removed.
The Porter’s Room has been removed, revealing the northern part of the Passenger Waiting Hall.
With the Porter’s Room removed, the ticket counter has once more been revealed to the public.
An additional Bukit Timah Railway Station sign now hangs at the station entrance from the driveway. This hides the back of the distinctively-Singaporean SCDF “EXIT” sign.
The small step into the Passenger Waiting Hall. has now been smoothened out for a barrier-free access.
On the southern end of the Passenger Waiting Hall, maps are now installed depicting the railway in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
The map on the left depicts a Malaya map with railways in 1963, some time before 9 July 1963, since it does say Malaya after all.
The map on the left depicts a Singapore map with railways in 1966 after Singapore was expelled from Malaysia.
The walls of the Signal Room has been repainted in white.
The 6 spare levers left behind have been repainted, thankfully still in white. The remaining 30 levers from the original rack have been taken by Malaysia.
A replica of the Bukit Timah Railway Station signal panel has been reinstated without light bulbs. The bulb colours have been printed in as a replacement.
There is a demonstration panel on how the levers worked in the Signal Room. There seems to be some bugs when I tried playing with it as the lock was not locking. Also the lock was in the wrong direction as pulling it down towards you wrongly explains that it is on “Lock” rather than unlocked.
While the spare levers have been repainted, they have not been derusted or polished.
Water Point & Old Levers
The water point was not reinstated despite the platform to it covering up the old lever rack still being kept. Reinstating a water point here of sorts would have made a nice pit stop for Rail Corridor users.
KM772.75 Kilometer Post
A replica of the original KM772.75 Kilometer Post has been reinstated outside the Signal Room, though with a different font.
An information board on the KM772.75 Kilometer Post is posted on the side of the Signal Room.
Bukit Timah Railway Station Signs
The Bukit Timah Railway Station sign on the southern part of the platform has been cleaned up and restored.
While the Bukit Timah Railway Station sign on the northern part of the platform had been taken back by Malaysia, a replica has been created and reinstated on the original site of where the original sign might have been.
I would prefer that this sign have an additional information panel on it stating that it is a replica, and that the original sign is somewhere in Malaysia.
The Token Catcher on the southern end of the platform for day time northbound trains has been restored and reinstated.
Do note that this is a very basic description of the Token Catcher.
The Token Catcher was not used at night due to visibility issues and to speed up the clearing of the line. The token pouch was simply thrown on the platform near the Porter or Station Master where it could be seen easily.
Token exchange was also not conducted at Bukit Timah Railway Station when the King Lever was pulled when Bukit Timah Railway Station was closed. The King Lever opened up a bigger block for a different token set (green) to operate directly between Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Woodlands Train Checkpoint (Woodlands CIQ).
The Token Catcher for the loop line has also been restored.
A replica Token Catcher on the northern end of the platform for day time southbound trains has also been reinstated on the original site of the original Token Catcher which has been taken by Malaysia.
Replica Maintenance Trolley
2 new replica maintenance trolleys are now placed at Bukit Timah Railway Station on the loop line and siding.
This made me very confused as they look like Wickham trolleys but they’re not.
Also, the trolleys have a destination sign on them, with the northbound-facing trolley on the loop line stating TG.PAGAR JOHOR and the southbound-facing trolley on the siding stating JOHOR TG.PAGAR, as if they’re operating the old Shuttle Tebrau peak hour trains.
Ah, SimSun. I guess I know where these replica maintenance trolleys are made in then.
There are seats which you can climb on to the trolley for a rest or some pictures.
There are scotch blocks on all wheels preventing accidental movement of the trolleys.
Another thing which made me feel uneasy was because when trolleys were parked at Bukit Timah Railway Station when I was trainspotting, it usually spelt bad news as things were already not working, therefore the trolleys were there to fix the problem.
Station Master’s Bungalow
Perhaps the worst name change done at Bukit Timah Railway Station was from Station Master’s Bungalow to Railway Staff Quarters as it downgrades the status and changes the entire purpose of the building, but moving on…
The Station Master’s Bungalow now houses 1932 Story, a new café and heritage gallery. The name is a reference to the line’s opening date on 1 January 1932 on this new deviation to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.
There is an outdoor sitting area with some furniture reminiscent of the past.
The toilets behind are kept in their original function.
The Butler Sink looks amazingly new that I’m not sure if this was original.
1932 Story serves up drinks, cakes, and some mains. The interior of 1932 Story has a rustic feel to it.
Old furniture and fittings make up the entire café making it look like a step back in time.
I’m not sure what this departure board is about though. At first I thought it could be a cocktail menu but the departure times don’t look like prices to me.
The furthest room in 1932 Story houses some Malayan Railway artefacts.
Some documents and equipment used by Malayan Railways. I won’t describe it so much or show you all of it, so that you would have a reason to go down and visit yourself.
An old lever set which might be a replica or which came from other stations.
Do note that the details are not exactly as they were when operational. The description on the plates also do not match with any of Bukit Timah Railway Station‘s levers.
A wall of old tickets are also on display.
New air-conditioning controls have been integrated on the old switch board.
The fencing to the former yard has now been removed and the road for horses is now the main walking path to access Bukit Timah Railway Station from the main road. Note that this yard is for storage and not a marshalling yard.
A sign with an old photo of this area is posted along the path.
New Rail Corridor wayfinding signs are also installed here.
Seats along the path have rails in between as a divider.
A new pavilion called The Yard is now built by the former road for horses heading to and from the Turf Club.
There is an information board on the story of the Rail Corridor starting from 1903 with the opening of Singapore-Kranji Railway till now.
I am pleased and grateful to be a small part of the renovated Bukit Timah Railway Station and surroundings. Many thanks to Kay Ngee Tan Architects for reaching out and accommodating my facts changes on the story board, and most importantly KTM Berhad for inviting me and making my Tren Khas Terakhir Stesen Tanjong Pagar 1030up train ride even possible.
Behind The Yard, there is a new set of toilets which are of good PCN standard. An AED is also mounted on the wall here.
Heading into the male toilet for a look. Technically I’m completing a review since my train and plane trips all feature the toilet too right.
3 urinals are available in the male toilet.
There are also cubicles with western-style toilets.
Each cubicle is generous in space, potentially fitting a bicycle even though the sign in front says not to bring them in to the toilet.
Sinks are placed facing the trees, offering good natural ventilation in the toilet.
There is a new deviation through the open space for a more direct access to King Albert Park MRT Station.
A map of the renovated Bukit Timah Railway Station and surroundings have been placed at the former road for horses heading to and from the Turf Club.
More paths have also been created for easier access to Bridge 1871.
The road up to the siding is now blocked off with a PCN-style barricade.
Heading out of with a view of Bridge 1871. For my visit to Bridge 1871, click here.
My sentiments of keeping the Rail Corridor remains the same as what I wrote about last year, which has also been my beliefs since 1 July 2011.
However, with the renovated Bukit Timah Railway Station this year, history is better preserved for future generations to come, despite being some mistakes around the information boards around the station and vicinity. Plots of Bukit Timah Railway Station have also been combined to form a better curated park for recreation especially at the former yard. This has a special place in my heart as I had spent a good chunk of time trainspotting at Bukit Timah Railway Station while trains were still running in Singapore.
But realistically though, 11 years is a long time for restoration, especially when considering that Bukit Timah Railway Station was in a dreadful overgrown state in 2019, which means the physical work of this restoration only took less than 2 years. I feel that poor Bukit Timah Railway Station had been neglected from 2011 to 2019.
Nevertheless, with the progress of Bukit Timah Railway Station this year on 1 July 2022, I look forward to other improvements in following years, and hopefully on more 1 Julys as well.