One last dance on the railway through the green corridor

25 06 2011

We are now into the last weekend of the old railway through Singapore. The old railway with its locomotive hauled carriages will after the next week, be something that we can only reminisce about, having seen it pass through areas of Singapore that I have since my childhood days associated with the railway. There is something about trains that always fascinates a child, and it was indeed in my childhood that I developed a fascination with trains, having seen trains speed across the black bridges of Bukit Timah and the level crossings of the north and having heard the whistles and horns that I will always associate with the annual Lunar New Year reunion dinners at my aunt’s place in Spottiswoode Park. At least for me, the passing of the railway into history will be a bittersweet moment, having not just had many childhood experiences watching the trains go by, but also having been a regular user of the railway in the 1990s. It will be the knowledge that it will only be in the memories that I hold that I will see the trains once more, across a world that seemed far away from the changing landscape in the land of my birth that I have less and less of a connection with, that saddens me. That I guess is something that is inevitable about Singapore, a Singapore that abandons its recent past for the promise of an unattainable slice of Utopia.

The last dance of the railway through what many Singaporeans hope will be a future green corridor.

It is in the interest that is generated by passing of the old railway into history that I have also come to realise that Singapore that matters does hold what it is about to lose dear. Passing through the stations and the during recent walks along the line, there is an unmistakeable sense one feels of an air of sadness that goes beyond the passing of the trains or the pleasure of boarding one at the platform of a grand old station. There is also that sadness that comes from the loss of a world that Singapore has left behind that one could escape to at the station as well as in many parts of the railway corridor and the possible loss of distinctive landmarks that many have identified the areas around the corridor with. It through the shared experiences of the last days of the railway and the collective attempts by many individuals, interest groups and media organisations, that I have not just a wealth of positive experiences, but made a lot of wonderful friends, something that I will hold dear as much as I hold what has been a wonderful wealth of memories and experiences of the railway dear.

The last week of the railway has seen an upsurge in interest in it and has seen individuals, interest groups and media organisations scurrying to film, photograph and document its last days.

Many have taken an exploration through the green corridor and have become aware of the wonderful green spaces the railway has given us.

The green corridor is a breath of fresh air to a greying Singapore.

There is a wealth of flora and fauna in the green corridor - a pair of Scaly Breasted Munias dancing on the railway tracks near Blackmore Drive.

An Oriental Pied Hornbill seen flying over the green corridor.

And now, I will look forward to a final rail journey out of and back for that final homecoming into Tanjong Pagar this 30th of June, knowing that it is inevitable that the railway that Singapore has seen for close to 108 years will on the very next day be gone, and it is in knowing this that I will celebrate not with joy in my heart, but with a deep sense of appreciation for the railway, the wonderful green spaces and most of all the people that made the railway that I will always hold dear. Thanks KTM for the memories … and hopefully for the wonderful green spaces that we can pass on to our future generations.

The 1st of July will see the railway land which by a 1918 Ordinance transferred ownership of the land to the FMSR, the predecessor of the Malayan Railway, pass back into Singapore's hands, bringing to an end 108 years of the railway's association with Singapore.

The dismantling of the railway infrastructure will begin shortly after the 1st of July, but what advocates of the green corridor hope is that much (if not all) of the green spaces the corridor has given us will be retained for recreational use.


Posts on the Railway through Singapore and on the Green Corridor:

Information related to the station and its architecture can be found on a previous post: “A final look at Tanjong Pagar Station“. In addition to that, I have also put together a collection of experiences and memories of the railway in Singapore and of my journeys through the grand old station which can be found through this page: “Journeys through Tanjong Pagar“.

Do also take a look at the proposal by the Nature Society (Singapore) to retain the green areas that have been preserved by the existence of the railway through Singapore and maintain it as a Green Corridor, at the Green Corridor’s website and show your support by liking the Green Corridor’s Facebook page. My own series of posts on the Green Corridor are at: “Support the Green Corridor“.


A last dance with the railway through the Green Corridor on 26 Jun 2011:

Join the good people who support the Green Corridor and me on a walk through a road less travelled by the railway on the last Sunday of KTM’s operations through Singapore on “The Green Corridor walk along Upper Bukit Timah Road.“.



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8 responses

25 06 2011
Funky

watery eyes, lump in my throat even though no memories of station

25 06 2011
Lucy

Hiya, Thanks for your fantastic site. I’ve been forwarding your updates on the Tj Pagar station to the Tanglin Halt Wildlife Watch page on facebook.
Can I confirm, does the last train go from Tj Pagar at 10.30pm this Thursday?

I’m trying to arrange a party to wave off the train from Tanglin Halt. We’d actually like to also wave to the trains before the very last one too as we’d kind of prefer to wave off the regular drivers than the Sultan of Johore!!

The drivers always wave to us when they pass by. Getting quite teary even typing this. I come from a family of trainspotters and live right next to the tracks … can see them from my window. It really is the end of an era!

11 11 2011
Xin Qianhui Karen

Hi Lucy,

I really hope you see this in time! I’m Karen. I’m working on a documentary about Bukit Timah and I’m hoping to speak to someone like you. Someone who has long and fond memories at the Bukit Timah Railway station before it ended operations. Would you be available for a chat today or over the weekend?

Hope to hear from you soon!

P.S. Thanks Jerome for letting me use this as a platform to get in touch with people. If you know of anyone like Lucy, do let me know too. =)

Sincerely,
Karen
karen@oak3films.com

25 06 2011
:)

hello…

its nice to know someone is keeping tabs with the last days of KTM’s hold in tanjong pagar. i am singaporean but i have been staying here in spooner road since the day i was born in 1987 and is still staying here till someone evicts me out from my unit.

its sad that onli now people are streaming in to catch photographic evidences of KTM’ s existence in Singapore. there was not a single soul who wanted to come here prior to this due to the state of the flats here and now i feel like im staying in a zoo.

if u must know, being a KTM son is hard, and i for myself have been neglected to a certain extent. Malaysia do not recognise my “type” and so does Singapore. for instance, due to where i am staying, they have categorised me living in a pte property and thus, my share of the CPF and Grow and Share packages were minimum.

Nonetheless, im still thankful for the fact there are self-help groups in Singapore. i myself am a receipient of Menadaki’s 70% subsidies for my studies.

i hope i can share with u more of stories but i guess maybe next time. there were so many things happenning here in spooner rd. illegal immigrants, news of the Msian PM coming which didnt happen, that one was funny.

i had been telling my dad that we are just puupets for the Msian gov in order to keep hold of the land in Spore but my dad is so passionate bout working with KTM. nevertheless, its the sole reason why i get the the luxury of Spore’s quality education till to date.

tats all for now. thx again man 🙂
i really love ur blog and pics. TC.

26 06 2011
Daniel

First time to your site. Yours is not only a photo blog, but one full of stories as well. Brings back some good memories – Thanks!

26 06 2011
paki

Husband and I will be in Singapore for only two days, but will not miss the Bukit Brown cemetary.sadly it seems we have missed old singapore as it is turning into another boring concrete jungle just like our country. Heart breaking for all who love the unique history and romance of our world.

28 06 2011
Fauziah Zach

While reading and viewing photos on KTM’s issue, make me wanna cry. It is such a waste to not appreciate it until this very last moment…. Though I am very passionate about trains since I was a kid.

1 07 2011
lil

Thanks for such a wonderful site on stories and photos of the KTM railway. Stumbled on it by accident. It was from your blog, that we managed to go to Bukit Timah station for last visit . Will certainly miss them

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