One Station Many Names

This is the 2nd time in my life taking the train (not the MRT train) from Malaysia to Singapore. The first time was probably in the early 80s from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore with my friends. Don’t really recalled much with which friends and exactly when. But the train then was stuffy and was without aircon. I felt giddy after a while and need to walk about in the train or keep talking to my friends. As journey was long and nothing much to view except the greenery at the side, I find taking train boring and tiring.

This time (Dec. 2009 school holidays) together with my wife and 2 kids, I planned for a short trip to Johor Bahru using public transport. I decided to try a train ride back from J.B. to Singapore so as to avoid the causeway jam. I thought that after so many years, taking a train would be different experience – at least not so tiring. Sad to say, it’s still as boring and tiring for me…it’s so tiring that I didn’t take much photos upon arrival at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as it was already 5 or 6 pm.

Some people called it Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, some called it Singapore Railway Station or Keppel Road Railway Station (probably because it is located at Keppel Road). If we take a look at the old street directories, it was mainly listed as Singapore Railway Station & Hotel ;

Credit : Chief Surveyor, Survey Dept. , Ministry of Law

From the copies that I’ve, the Singapore Street Directories are listing it as Singapore Railway Station & Hotel from 70s to 90s.

If we check the current Street Director online, we get Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

From my 2007 edition of Mighty Minds Directory, it was also know as Tanjong Pagar Railway Station;

Credit : Mighty Minds Publishing Pte Ltd

OK, the actual name now  is probably just Tanjong Pagar Railway Station ( 丹戎巴葛火车总站). So in the past it was called Singapore Railway Station & Hotel. But why “& Hotel”? Is there really a hotel at the station? I’m not too sure if the hotel still in operation now? It was known to have 34 rooms in this Station Hotel and it was one of the 3 station hotels in Malayan Railway stations. The other 2 were at Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.  Our Singapore’s Station Hotel manager, Mr.Lim Jit Chin, received a Guiness Book of Record for the second-longest serving hotel manager in the world. This Station Hotel’s services were known to be equal that of Raffles Hotel then. I wonder where exactly is the hotel located at the station? Let’s take a look at this 1977 photo ;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Comparing the above photo with the one I took upon my returned trip last month in 2009;

You can see the beautiful wall murals depicting the scenes of Malaysia in the past. Below is another old photo taken in 1935 of the same;

The other side ;

Credits above : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

I find the wall murals are really beautiful. Luckily they are still well maintained over the years. This one by me;

Click to see the panorama view of the station interior.

Didn’t see clearly the wall murals, ok here 2 more views;

Credits : Above 2 from

If you are not aware of, these beautifuly mosaic panels wall murals are made of colored rubber by the Singapore Rubber Works with a patented process. Between the 2 side walls of murals, you can see a wall in the lobby with the initial F.M.S.R. – Federated Malay States Railway. This is the railway’s original name when Singapore & Malaysia were both part of British Malaya.

The design of the station is very European and said to be influenced by the Finland’s Helsink Station;

Credit :

Maybe the dome and the 4 wall figures resembled it. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was built in 1932 on reclaimed swampland. The station’s inaugural opening was conducted by Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith on 3 March 1932. Take a look at its 1969 aerial view;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

You can take a closer look of this station from the below undated photo;

You can see from my photos below that there isn’t much changes in the design of the station even until now;

Luckily the Malaysia side did not demonlish or change the outlook of this historical station. Look, the old clock is still there!

 There are 4 towering bas-relief figures at the entrance to the station;

They are the symbols of Malaysia’s economic pillars – Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry, each personification holdings symbols unique to their character.

Agriculture (F);

Commerce (M);

Above Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Transport (S);

Industry (R);

So does the railway track from Johor Bahru end at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station only? I understand from the old maps that this is not so in the past.  

Take a look at the following map from my Pri.4 Geography text book (70s);

Credit : Above 2, Magraw-Hill Far Eastern Pubhishers (S) Ltd

OK, we can see from the above maps that besides the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, the track was branched out (I think it’s at Telok Blangah) to the Empire Dock and Queen’s Dock. This is understandable as the railway was meant for the transportation of goods from the harbour in the past before using it for passengers. Are the railway tracks still there to the 2 docks? I’m not sure, what about you? Maybe the below aerial view photo of the above map can help (taken from the Singapore Independent 1 year magazine);

Can you spot the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station on the extreme right side of the photo?

How long will this Tanjong Pagar Railway Station still be in use, no one knows. Remember the dispute about relocating this railway station to Bukit Timah? But both parties (Malaysia and Singapore) intrepret the agreement in different ways – Malaysia-Singapore Points of Agreement of 1990. The land where the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the railway tracks are located is on a 999-years lease. Probably because the station and tracks are not owned by Singapore now, we still have yet any postage stamps about railway station and tracks.

The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is not the first and only railway station in Singapore. There were may other railway stations in Singapore before 1932. The Singapore Railway was built in 1902 and the main railway station then was at Tank Road. After Tank Road, going north, there were Newton, Cluny Rd, Bt Timah, Bt Panjang, Kranji and the final Station at Woodlands.

Don’t forget that the Johor-Singapore Causeway was only builit in 1919 and was opened to trains in 1923. So before that, all passengers and goods were transferred at the Woodlands station to a ferry to Johor Bahru and then to the connecting train there. The Singapore Railway was transferred by sale to the FMSR (Federated Malay States Railway, formed in 1896, a loose union of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang) in 1918. Of course now it’s owned by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM).

So how many times have you taken a train to or from this railway station?


What my father wrote;


18 Responses to “One Station Many Names”

  1. 1 noelbynature Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve been to the railway station hotel at Ipoh. It’s still in operation, all the more because the station has been designated a historical site. I didn’t stay at the hotel, but I got the front desk to open one of the rooms for me to look around. The furnishings and the trappings still have a lot of old world charm!

  2. 2 Unk Dicko Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Travelling on trains can be very exhilarating esp in Europe and New Zealand where you travel over stupendous valleys, mountains and gorges with breath-taking scenery all about.
    I have travelled in trains all over Malaya, Thailand, and elsewhere.
    But I can never forget my very 1st Train trip which was also my 1st journey outside Singapore…in 1963.
    I was interviewed by Mediacorp on RSI 93.8 station and it was aired for over a month in 2007. That was also the 1st time listeners got to hear the song “500 Miles ” played on Ukulele and sung live on radio by yours truly.
    To read that brief travellers’ tale, click on the link below.

  3. 3 Icemoon Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Inside the station, the signboard shows ‘Singapura’. Outside the station, the signboard shows ‘Railway Station Tanjung Pagar’. I think the reason is partly historical because last time Singapore Town was called Singapore. So we had Singapura Station, Tanglin Halt, Bukit Timah Station etc.

    LKK, looks like you had fun taking the second shots in the station, despite the tiring and boring train ride.

  4. 4 laokokok Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Thanks for the info Noelbynature. I think it will be a good experience staying at the station hotel.

  5. 5 laokokok Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Interesting article on your 1st trip – never bring a Parker Pen when going to the train’s loo? Haha. It must be a very memorable 1st trip.

  6. 6 laokokok Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 8:24 am

    You are right Icemoon. I did looked up those old photos of the station before the trip and intend to do some ‘second shots’ at the station. But upon returned, I was too tired and quickly rushed thru the shots and took a cab home. So don’t really bother much about the ‘second shots’… angles.

  7. 7 kimology Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for this post and the photos. I used to take a train to KL every month and it brings back a lot of memories.I just hope they will never demolish or erase the original character of this grand old building. I wonder if the queue to buy tickets esp for the festive season, is still the same? By the way, I think they give a 50% discount for senior citizens regardless of nationality.

  8. 8 Bee Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Station used to be called Singapore Railway Station. Some years ago, the Singapore Authorities decided to check passports at woodlands, which became (unofficially) Woodlands Station. To avoid misunderstandings, Singapore Railway Station became Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

  9. 9 laokokok Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Thank you for the infos Bee.

  10. 10 laokokok Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Are you from Malaysia, Kimology? Do you still take the train every month now?

  11. 11 Alexander Gan Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I’ve only sat on the KTM in Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to Kuala Lumpur. I would like to ask, does the station belong to the Malaysian government or simply the KTM company? I went into the toilets and there were vaccums in there, and the first thing that came to my mind was: Malaysia.

    I never knew there was a hotel in the old fellow. If the hotel’s standard is equivelent to that of Raffles’, than, shouldn’t WE all know about it? I thought the hotel was like New 7th Storey Hotel-backpacker’s style hotel.

  12. 12 Liaw Pey Wen Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    hi, i am reporter from Malaysia Johor Bahru. I am doing a feature on Singapore Tanjong Pagar railway station and I am looking for Singaporean to do some interview about the experience of taking train from singapore to malaysia. I think the train-taking experience will be very interesting, especially when Malaysia custom is at Tanjong Pagar station while Singapore custom is at Woodlands. If you would like to accept the interview, we can contact via email or phone. Thank you very much!

  13. 13 Stanley Tan Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I am always interested in the level-crossing from the railway yard (now AYE & Distribute Park) to the harbour.

    Part of the track still exist beside the cold storage building.
    The gate beside the building is still there, but the yard side have long been gone.

    I have posted the gate’s photo of now&then in the KTM railway forum.

    The current Keppel Road is the new alignment.
    I believe all the tracks (along with the docks) within the harbour have long been gone under the redevelopment of the container port.

  14. 14 Stanley Tan Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 10:16 am

    It’s a great memories for me taking the KTM back to Labis since i was young. My parents brought me back by train when i was still a small boy, then during my secondary school days, i’ll go back by myself. Now i still likes to take train back when there is a need. I also intorduced KTM to my then GF, now wife few years ago. Hopefully i’ll have the chance to bring my babay boy to Keppel rd station by July 2011.

    It’s be a shame to see there is no more railway in Singapore.
    Have posted many 1980s~current KTM photos in my KTM forum & Facebook.
    Go take a look… 🙂

    Stanley Tan Say Tong

  15. 15 adam72 Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

    i watched a documentary on the station hotel and the son of the owner said the it was haunted: he claimed to see apparitions himself. any paranormal guys out there to quantify?

  16. 16 Click Hyperlink Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Rather element of content material. I just now found your own blog page as well as in accession capital to get that I attain in truth loved bank account your site threads. Anyway I will be subscribing to your for or maybe My spouse and i happiness you actually access continually speedy.

  1. 1 One Station Many Names « Times of My Life Help Trackback on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm
  2. 2 One Station Many Names Trackback on Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm

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