Archive for the 'Transports' Category

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;



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June 2023