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;

Man’s “wife”

Most men treat their cars especially their first car like or better than their wives. For me, it’s already a thing of the past since I’ve been driving for the past 20 over years and driven more than 10 over brands/models of cars.

My dad’s first and only car was a Peugeot 404 bought for only S$3,500 in the early 70s. It was a 3yrs old car and most people go for a Continental car instead of a Japanese car then – the reason guessed Chun See had mentioned it before in his blog.

The thing I remembered well was that my dad would start the car engine about 15 minutes beforehand so as to warm up the car! We enjoyed the drive from Serangoon to Changi Point for our usual swim; there wasn’t any expressway then.

I got my first car (a 3yrs old car also) in the early 80s and it was a Ford Laser 1.3L. Luckily there wasn’t such a thing as COE then.

Don’t know why men like to pose with their first car? Also many of us like to spend hours waxing and washing our cars. Now I can’t remember when was the last time I go for a car wash hehe.

I recalled after collecting my first car, I drove into Joo Chiat those small One-Way street and went against the traffic. I hit my headlight against a lamp post while doing a 3 point turn out! Fancy getting into an accident on the first day of driving my own car.

Throughout my years of driving, I’ve only bought one brand new car and that was during 1991 when COE was introduced recently then. My first brand new car was a Subaru Viki 800cc, a car which will trembled when a lorry drove past you. The COE then was less then $10K and thereafter it escalated sky high. After driving this car, I wouldn’t settle for any car less than 1,600cc.

Now with the COE, ERP, Insurance, Parking charges, Rd Tax, Petrol tax, etc… it’s really a heavy burden to own a car.


I guess many of us have long forgotten the above ‘ugly’ piece of paper that had given us so much trouble in getting it before entering a certain place called the ‘restricted zone’. One has to go to certain places to purchase it at $3 or buy one that gives you free access for a month – the place to get it is shown behind the above paper;

Below is a typical ALS booth selling it;

Photo credits :

You may read more on here and here.

You need to display this ALS ticket on the top left hand corner of your car windscreen. This ALS (Area Licence Scheme) was implemented in June 1975. At that time, words like RZ (Restricted Zone and CBD (Central Business Districts) were very popular. Of course with this ALS, you can enter the RZ during the peak hour without 4 persons in the car. The price for entering is $3 for daily access and $60 for a month’s access.

You will be amazed by how that lady (usually) standing near the ‘sentry box’ monitored those cars with the ALS ticket on the windscreen. How she can spot those without and take down their vehicle numbers. Understand that these group of people are specially trained for these jobs!

Photo credit : LTA Academy

After about 23years, we discarded this manual system and go for the ERP (Electronic Road Pricing);

Not so troublesome as the ALS as we don’t have to purchase that ticket anymore, yet there are always drivers who forget to insert the cashcard into the IU (In vehicle unit);

Photo credits above : LTA Academy, LTA.

Here is how the ERP system works in detail. Anyway, whichever system it is – it’s still Pay and Pay!

How time flies

Sometimes when I browse through my stamp album, I can’t help but reminisce about the past event. Here is the stamp that brings back memory of our airline history;

I remember when I was young, we used to talk about MSA then MAS and SIA. So what’s all these talk about? Nothing much but just some history of SIA.

Well that MAS stamp was issued in 1973 if I’m not wrong – How Time Flies…I was 11yrs old then and in Pri. 5!

Below is the timeline of our Singapore Airline evolution;

Here are some interesting read on;

Aviation Landscape in Singapore

Malaysia Airlines

During the 70s,  plastic modeling was my best hobby. Brands like Airfix and Tamiya are very popular then. Fixing of airplane was my favourite. Of course, at that time I couldn’t afford a airbrush and compressor, so most of my models are uncolored.

Here is the news on the split of the 2 airlines in 1972;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

Here is a photo of the Malayan Airways plane (a Douglas DC-3) at Paya Lebar Airport in 1959 .

Photo Credit : Mel Lawrence,

So who still remember the Concorde between 1977 and 1980?

Photo Credit : Singapore Airlines, Wikipedia

BTW, do you still remember our $20 note behind design? It shows a Concorde too;

The note was first issued in 1979.

I was so excited when the Concorde made her maiden flight to Singapore then. Though the sound made by that bird was tremendous, but the sight of that plane was very impressive!

Here are some Concorde history;

Concorde History

Concorde Key Events

Ticket to the Past (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1…

Though what happened before SBS or STC were not part of my life, but it’s interesting to know more about it. Now let’s take a look at the Public Transport history before SBS was formed;

1882 to 1894 – Steam Tramway (The Singapore Tramways Company Limited)

1891 – Electric Tramway

1902 – Singapore Electric Tramsway Limited

1925 – Shanghai Electric Construction Company Limited established the Singapore Traction Company (STC) : Trolley Buses

1927 – All Trams were replaced by Trolley Buses

1955 – Hock Lee Bus Riot

1956 – Great STC Strike

1962 – Trolley Buses replaced by Motor Buses

1971 – 10 Chinese bus companies were re-organised into 3 main companies;

Amalgamated Bus Company (West Route) Formed by Hock Lee Amalgamated Bus Company, Keppel Bus Company, Kg Bahru Bus Service.

Associated Bus Services (East Route) Formed by Paya Lebar Bus Service, Changi Bus Company, Katong-Bedok Bus Service, Ponggol Bus Service.

United Bus Company (North) Formed by Tay Koh Yat Bus Company, Green Bus Company, Easy Bus Company.

Singapore Traction Company (STC) was to maintain its operation in the Town Area.

1973 : STC went burst. Government step in to bring the 3 bus companies together; Singapore Bus Service (SBS) formed.

Singapore Steam Tram around 1880s;

Here is the Steam Tramway Map in Singapore;

Credit : Above 2 from Malcolm of RailSing site

Here is a very good site about Steam and Electric Tramway in Singapore from Malcom.

Electric Tramway in Singapore;

Let’s see some Trolley Buses in the olden times Singapore. See if you can tell the differences between Electric Tram and Trolley Bus?

Trolley Bus along High Street in 1930s;

Trolley Bus Service No.3 plying Outram to Geylang in 1950s (you can see our police in shorts too);

Credit : nk4631

Postcard showing Trolley Bus along Anson Rd at the old Boustead Building (now Fuji Xerox) in the 60s;

So how to tell the Trolley Bus apart from Electric Tram? The differences are;

– Trams have flanged wheels and run on rails or grooved tracks. Trams take electric power from a single overhead wire and the return is from the track.

– Trolley buses have rubber tyres and don’t run on track or rail. They take power from a pair (2) of overhead parallel wire.

This is an interesting old photo – not only showing the 2 types but also take note of the front of the STC bus (there was a turning knob);

Credit : nk4631

Below shows an old STC Bus No. 4 plying Paya Lebar and Finlayson Green probably in the 60s;

Maybe they may be fun and interesting to look at now, but I for sure don’t think I will enjoy the ride at all.

Ticket to the Past (Part 1)

When I was surfing one of those online auction site, I came across the above. Yes, it’s like one of those bus ticket hole puncher used by the bus conductors.

Well these are probably the only 3 tickets left in my possession – somehow hidden inside one of those old textbooks!

I hate taking buses not only in the past but even now! I hated those bus conductors who shouted right at my ears and pushing their way from front to back and back to front. I hated those bus drivers who brake and accelerate, accelerate and brake every few seconds. I hated myself for being unable to balance myself on the bus. So I never like taking bus.

During my time 60s and 70s, I think I still find the STC buses around until they went burst in 1973. So what goes before STC? Frankly I’ve not much ideas until I see some of my old stamps and phonecards.

Below are 2 stamps issued in 1997 showing an Electric Tram and a Trolley Bus;

I also have an old phonecard showing an Electric Tram near the Fullerton Building;

And also an old SMRT card showing the trolley bus;

I’m not too sure why is there a Tay Koh Yat Bus form in my possession too;

So how real the above are (steam and electric tram, trolley bus), it’s up to our imagination as I’ve not seen them personally. But thanks to the internet, much infos about our past can be dug out.

…to be continued in Part 2.


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April 2020