KTM Singapore Sector 9 Years On: Visiting Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, Bukit Timah Railway Station, And All 5 Railway Crossings

On 30 June 2020, keeping with a personal tradition, I went to visit the railway sites on the former KTM Singapore Sector on its 9th anniversary of its closure.

What’s new and what’s still the same?

If you have constantly read my annual articles on it, I guess what would be written this year may not surprise you. But at long last, there is a glimmer of hope for progress.

Former Royal Malaysia Customs (Singapore)

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The former site of Royal Malaysia Customs (Singapore) has been turned into the Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal since 10 March 2018, replacing the former New Bridge Road Bus Terminal outside of the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

The Royal Malaysia Customs (Singapore) Residence is still today located in Singapore at 157 A/B/C Mount Pleasant Road Singapore 298345.

Kampong Bahru Yard

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The shelters of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station platforms are still housed on the former site of the Eastern & Oriental Express and KTM Intercity coach sheds.

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This time round, there are sheets covering the sides of the shelters. Hopefully, this is part of restoration works on them.

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The URA car park on the former freight lines has also opened.

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Heading down to the URA car park.

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There is a small network of sheltered linkways between Kampong Bahru Road, the new URA car park, and the Kampong Bahru Bus Terminal.

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The view of the new URA car park, formerly the view of the many freight lines beside the turntable.

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A closer look at the covered Tanjong Pagar Railway Station shelters from the URA car park.

Sri Muneswarar Peetam Hindu Temple

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Sri Muneswarar Peetam Hindu Temple was the former Hindu temple located within the premises of the Kampong Bahru Yard. Despite being based in Singapore, they were also forced to vacate the land by 1 July 2011 along with the closure of the KTM Singapore Sector.

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The former staircase down to Sri Muneswarar Peetam Hindu Temple, with a slightly out of place green barrier as compared with the other longish ones along the path.

In 2019, Sri Muneswarar Peetam Hindu Temple has finally found a permanent place, sharing the same premises as Sze Cheng Keng Taoist Temple. Sze Cheng Keng Taoist Temple/Sri Muneswarar Peetam Hindu Temple is located at 16 Ubi Rd 4 Singapore 408616.

I had wanted to pay this temple a visit this year at their new permanent location, but unfortunately with the current Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening rules for places of worship, I figured it might be more convenient for everyone to pay a visit only after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended and restrictions are lifted.

Cantonment MRT Station (Spottiswoode Park Road)

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Walking towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station from Kampong Bahru Yard, lots of hoardings for the construction of Cantonment MRT Station at Spottiswoode Park Road can be seen.

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Looking down towards Raeburn Park.

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Looking down towards Spottiswoode Park Road (Everton Road).

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The future look of Cantonment MRT Station as seen on one of the hoardings. Exit D will be located beside the former Platform 3 and Kiriman Express loading platform.

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Construction is in full swing on the former platform and track area of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (Spottiswoode Park Road)

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The northern facade of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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The former entrance to the M. Hasan Railway Station Canteen (more commonly known as Platform Canteen).

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The former side entrance to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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Just like the rest of Singapore, CCTV is installed at the entrances.

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The main facade is currently partially blocked by the Circle Line 6 site office.

Circle Line 6 Project Information Centre (PIC)

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The Circle Line 6 Project Information Centre (PIC) is located within the compounds of the Circle Line 6 site office. However, it remains closed since the Circuit Breaker started till further notice.

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The Circle Line 6 site office currently blocks the main facade of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (Keppel Road)

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The main facade of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as seen from Keppel Road.

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Peeking through the main gate of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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Some scaffolding is in place in front of the 4 statues of Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry and 4 shields of F, M, S and R. Hopefully, these would be cleaned up and restored.

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Peeking through the original gates for a clearer shot.

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The Circle Line 6 site office sits on the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station car park.

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The main drive way from the car park and taxi stand. The barrier between the two roads has been removed.

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Scaffolding is also in place up to the block facing Keppel Road.

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The former Platform 3 bay platform at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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The former bus stop location has also been shifted further down to make way for Exit D of Cantonment MRT Station.

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Parts of the old fence still stands at unaffected portions of Circle Line Stage 6 construction.

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Exit D of Cantonment MRT Station sits on the former site of the bus stop.

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The new shifted bus stop outside the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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The artist’s impression of Exit D of Cantonment MRT Station.

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Hopefully there will be more progress to update every year from now on.

Bridge 1871 (Bukit Timah Road)

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Bridge 1871 is the famous railway bridge across Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road at King Albert Park. Contrary to popular belief, Bridge 1871 was NOT constructed in the year 1871, but rather, a running bridge number down from Prai, Penang.

This time, I have concrete proof that it wasn’t constructed in 1871.

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Bridge 1871 has been reconditioned, and I must say that it was a job well done.

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Bridge 1871 has been so cleaned up that you can see the original emboss. The base was cast by Cargo Fleet Iron Co, Middlesbrough, England.

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Bridge 1871 looking brand new across Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road.

Bukit Timah Railway Station

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The main road up to Bukit Timah Railway Station is still closed, and used as the site entrance for the Murnane Pipeline Project.

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Heading up to Bukit Timah Railway Station by the ramp towards the siding.

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I was quite surprised of the construction works at the top of the ramp.

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Looks like a track extension?

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Little bit jagged there though. I’ll come back to this part in a bit.

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The ridiculously overgrown facade of Bukit Timah Railway Station, reeking of abandonment. This is very un-Singapore-like.

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The siding has grass overgrown on it which is as tall as me. What is this, the Rantau Panjang branch line?

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The elongated view of Bukit Timah Railway Station, with the tall grass and overgrown vegetation in the station building compound marring the view.

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Looking down towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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The southern station sign of Bukit Timah Railway Station. The northern station sign is currently kept in Johor Bahru Railway Station.

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Looking down from the main line, the new path has pieces of track integrated in it. It is not known where this track is originally from, but is not part of the conserved section of railway track as stipulated by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

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The wooden block demarcating the conserved section of railway track is now painted grey.

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After a short distance, the railway track ends, with the path continuing on as per normal. Looks like Binded Fine Gravel won in the survey conducted by URA at the Rail Corridor Test Track.

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Joggers actively use the track south of Bukit Timah Railway Station.

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Heading back to Bukit Timah Railway Station on the track. Not a railway track, but a jogging track.

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Approaching Bukit Timah Railway Station.

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The sign for the southern token catcher has clearly gone missing, and the moved token catcher from the loop line has also disappeared.

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A closer look at the decaying Bukit Timah Railway Station sign, with the original blue sign starting to show again.

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The fenced-up station building of Bukit Timah Railway Station. Even the fence has overgrown climbers on it.

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The track condition of this conserved section does not look good at all. It looks like an abandoned branch line.

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The remaining 6 levers at Bukit Timah Railway Station, which are all spare and doesn’t activate anything during regular operations.

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The overgrown path outside the station building.

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The gates to the waiting hall of Bukit Timah Railway Station.

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Thankfully, plants haven’t reached the waiting hall.

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Neither has it reached the resting room, which was also originally part of the waiting hall, and window for the ticket counter.

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The entrance to the former Station Master’s office.

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This remains too. Interesting.

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The northern part of the platform being eaten up by grass.

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Looking back at the Bukit Timah Railway Station building.

Considering that Bukit Timah Railway Station will be restored to serve as a heritage gallery and base for community activities as stated in the URA Master Plan 2019, the current care for this historic site is absolutely appalling. It’s even worse than some disused stations in Malaysia like Mengkibol.

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The “new” (?) tracks are laid out in a construction site, but with many joggers using the path, I figured it was fine to enter.

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The transition from the conserved tracks to the future jogging track. Or maybe it’s for DMU to enter Bukit Timah Railway Station? (Wishful thinking.)

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A little bit of wrong placement of track though, the siding was not really used much during operations, only used in emergency situations like having too many trains on the line or for storage of assets. There is no “new” track running to the loop line, which feels very strange.

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These are actual railway tracks alright, complete with holes to fix fishplates on.

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Since it won’t be carrying trains, nuts and bolts would do the job fine rather than putting a full set of rail clips on.

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Very surprisingly, the pads to fit between the rail and sleeper are still used.

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I guess these will be filled up with Binded Fine Gravel just like the southern end.

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Heading north towards Butterworth Bridge 1871.

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The “point” where the siding and main line merges.

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Do not attempt to run a real train through this point.

Bridge 1871

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The “new” track links the conserved tracks outside Bukit Timah Railway Station to the tracks at Bridge 1871.

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The kilometer post of 772.50 still stands.

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The “link” between the conserved track on Bridge 1871 and the new track. Do not attempt to run real trains over this unless you want a flying train.

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The conserved track before Bridge 1871 looks out of place to me with the new concrete sleepers. Also, the ballast at the side have been sealed down in concrete, making it an easier but a little bit stale walk along the railway tracks now.

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The reconditioned Bridge 1871 standing proudly.

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Excellent job by the people behind this.

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The ballast at the sides of the railway track stuck down in concrete, with the ballast in between the rails still loose in its original state.

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More bars and handrails have been installed at the side for safety, rather than just two loose metal ropes before.

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Looking north towards Rifle Range Road.

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Looking down to Bukit Timah Road.

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The emboss of Dorman Long & Co., Ltd, Middlesbrough. England appearing on many trusses.

This is also sufficient proof that Bridge 1871 was NOT constructed in 1871: Dorman Long & Co., Ltd was first formed by Arthur Dorman and Albert de Laude Long in 1875 in the north east of England as ‘ steel makers, constructional engineers and bridge builders’.

Source: Dorman Long Technology

Now, please don’t continue to insist that Bridge 1861 adjacent to The Rail Mall was constructed in 1861, because then Prai Swing Bridge would have to be constructed in the year 7.

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The view of Bridge 1871 from the Rifle Range Road side.

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The conserved track tapers off to the regular path again at this end.

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A little bit of a different design from the southern end though, the tapering-off here is by black-painted wooden planks resembling railway sleepers, before continuing off with Binded Fine Gravel again.

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The path ends abruptly for now with the ongoing Murnane Pipeline Project works.

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Turning back to Bukit Timah Railway Station.

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Heading up the railway tracks, literally.

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The four types of materials used in this corner – Binded Fine Gravel, Fine Gravel, original railway ballast, and concrete-locked railway ballast.

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A nicer emboss of Dorman Long & Co., Ltd, Middlesbrough. England here.

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Each rivet and nut has also been polished down and repainted on, making it look brand new.

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The bridge number of 1871 seems to have been repainted on as a block grey. What.

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Heading back to Bukit Timah Railway Station over the point.

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Looks like this new kilometer post is also dropping off soon.

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The missing track heading to the loop line.

Bukit Timah Railway Station Master’s Bungalow

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The Bukit Timah Railway Station Master’s Bungalow, now called Former Station Master’s Quarters by URA, was gazetted in 2019 as a conserved building, and will be adapted for suitable amenities. Surprisingly, it’s in a better state than the Bukit Timah Railway Station building.

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The standalone toilet has definitely been hidden from view by all the overgrown vegetation. I wonder if the toilet would be preserved. It should definitely be, to me.

Gombak Gate

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Gombak Gate is located along Gombak Drive between Bukit Timah Road and MINDEF HQ.

A bit of a weird shooting angle at Gombak Gate with the presence of MINDEF HQ just beside me, here’s the first railway crossing in Singapore from the south.

In case you were wondering, no, this gate is new and definitely not the original.

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Looking north towards Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

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Looking south towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. I wonder why there’s a 4.5 meter height allowance on this new shelter on the original railway alignment.

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The parallel Bukit Timah Road just beside the original railway alignment.

Bukit Panjang Gate

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Bukit Panjang Gate is located along Choa Chu Kang Road opposite Junction 10.

The northern end of Bukit Panjang Gate and former railway alignment is currently used by Land Transport Authority (LTA) to hoist up and down Bukit Panjang LRT trains from the Bukit Panjang LRT tracks between Ten Mile Junction Depot and Phoenix LRT Station.

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The Bukit Panjang Gate hut still stands, though boarded up around all sides.

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The map of the Rail Corridor Test Track at Bukit Panjang Gate.

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The Grass and Gravel part of the Rail Corridor Test Track is now overgrown, thankfully it wasn’t the final option.

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The remainder of the Rail Corridor Test Track, still actively used by residents around the area.

Mandai Gate

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Mandai Gate is located at the border of Stagmont Ring and Choa Chu Kang Link.

It used to lie on a one-land road in each direction linking Woodlands Road and Yew Tee Estate, which caused traffic jams especially during peak hours. With the closure of the KTM Singapore Sector, the road was significantly widened to a 3-lane-per-way road.

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Looking north towards Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

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Crossing the widened road. The former Mandai Gate hut is gone, with the new road running over it.

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Looking south towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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A new bus stop lies on the former gate area.

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Looking towards Yew Tee on the double viaduct.

Sungei Kadut Gate

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Sungei Kadut Gate is located along Sungei Kadut Avenue between Sungei Kadut Way and Woodlands Road.

Looking south towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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Looking north across the former railway alignment towards Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

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The former site of the Sungei Kadut Gate hut.

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The overview of Sungei Kadut Gate.

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Looking towards Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

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I thought Bukit Timah Railway Station‘s overgrowing vegetation was bad, but the quarters here at Sungei Kadut Gate is even worse. It has a forest growing out of it.

Kranji Gate

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Kranji Gate is located along Kranji Road, today on the junction of Kranji Road and Kranji Close. It was the northernmost level crossing in Singapore.

Looking towards Woodlands Train Checkpoint. No clear path of the Rail Corridor is marked north of Kranji Gate, and no green strip is present in the URA Master Plan 2019.

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The massively-widened Kranji Road with a new junction to the new Kranji Close.

Kranji Gate was the tightest railway crossing in Singapore causing massive jams of industrial vehicles on the old single-lane Kranji Road. On top of the old one-lane-per-direction road, Kranji Gate was so slim that it could only fit 1 lane at a time. A traffic light was installed at Kranji Gate to allow traffic to pass through the gate one direction at a time throughout the day.

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Looking south towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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Another look at the former railway alignment.

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Out of all railway crossings, Kranji Gate is the only one with an information sign on it, as part of the Kranji Heritage Trail.

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The map of the Kranji Heritage Trail on the information sign.

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I’m not sure if I can 100% agree with the information provided though. No idea what the “Kranji Railway” was, I only knew of the Singapore-Kranji Railway. Also, I’m pretty sure the last train departing on 30 June 2011 was a KTM Berhad train service running on KTM Berhad tracks, and not a KTM train travelling across the “Kranji Railway” train crossing.

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Looking south towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

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The next landmark would be Woodlands Train Checkpoint where no photos are allowed. No trains this time too, so visiting Woodlands Waterfront to spot a train would be rather pointless too.

Overall, I’m glad to see the refurbished Bridge 1871 and improved road networks across Stagmont Ring and Kranji Road, though I’m still very disappointed in how railway buildings aside from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Spooner Road flats are treated till today. It’s not as if there hasn’t been time to think about what to do with them – it’s been 9 years, and counting!

Like what I’ve always said, if you’re just going to leave it as it is, might as well just keep on running trains. At least I can get from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar in under 30 minutes that way.