President Tony Tan Keng Yam visits the Journey of Possibilities

2 05 2012

URA Press Release

URA establishes Rail Corridor Partnership to explore and promote community activities along Rail Corridor

2 May 2012 – The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced today the formation of a Rail Corridor Partnership to look into the programming and promotion of community activities along the Rail Corridor. The Partnership is an expansion of the Rail Corridor Consultation Group, which was formed last July to provide input to the government on charting the future development plans for the Rail Corridor.

With the re-opening of the Rail Corridor on 9 January 2012, the Partnership will look for opportunities to promote community use of the space that spans the entire width of the island from north to south. Representatives from agencies such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Singapore Sports Council, and People’s Association will join the Partnership to further foster public-people sector collaboration along the Rail Corridor.

Collaborative effort to promote activities on the Rail Corridor

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who visited the ‘Journey of Possibilities’ exhibition at the URA Centre, said, “I am very encouraged that many groups and individuals are taking a keen interest in the Rail Corridor and are actively contributing their ideas and suggestions on the development and uses of the Rail Corridor. I am also glad that URA is stepping up engagements with Singaporeans to develop the Rail Corridor into a unique feature of our urban landscape that can be enjoyed by all Singaporeans.”

Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who chairs the Partnership, highlighted the collaborative nature of the group. He said, “The expanded role of the Rail Corridor Partnership will see a stronger collaboration between public sector agencies, interest groups, and individuals to promote and support suitable activities and events along the Rail Corridor. I hope that our engagement will continue to be constructive and fruitful going forward.”

The URA will work closely with partner agencies to assess the range of possible community uses and events as well as the necessary infrastructural requirements needed to support these activities along the Rail Corridor. The Rail Corridor Partnership will also provide advice on the public engagement efforts and proposed activities for the Rail Corridor. Such activities could span from community level events to national events that utilise the entire Rail Corridor. The feedback gathered from these events would be used by URA to draw up the design specifications and requirements that will form part of the brief for the Rail Corridor Master Plan and Design Competition that is being considered at the moment.

President met with winners of Ideas Competition

During his visit to the ‘Journey of Possibilities’ exhibition, President Tony Tan met with some of the winners of the Ideas Competition who shared with him their ideas for the Rail Corridor. The President was also introduced to members of the Rail Corridor Partnership and jury members of the Ideas Competition.

The ‘Journey of Possibilities’ exhibition features about 80 entries comprising 18 winning ideas, 19 honourable mentions, as well as other innovative entries received for the Ideas Competition. The exhibition also showcases some of the interesting feedback and suggestions received on URA’s Rail Corridor website since its launch in July last year. The exhibition ends on 11 May 2012.

The URA launched the Ideas Competition on 30 November 2011 to draw innovative and fresh new ideas from the public in addressing some of the key challenges and issues in planning for the future use of the Rail Corridor. The Ideas Competition attracted more than 200 submissions from both local and overseas participants. The URA will study the ideas and concepts from all these entries and distil from them suitable design principles and parameters that can form part of the brief for the Rail Corridor Master Plan and Design Competition that may be held in the future.

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A send off at the weekend for our old friends …

27 06 2011

Singapore residents were out in force to wave goodbye to the Malayan Railway that has been very much a part of the island’s landscape for over a century during the final weekend of its operations. It wasn’t just at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station which possibly because of the last day of operations of its food stalls today, has seen a large increase in visitors over the last week, but many other places along the line. At the We Support the Green Corridor’s walk in the morning, the largest crowd seen in the series of walks conducted over several months to raise awareness of the proposal by the Nature Society (Singapore) or NSS to retain the soon to be vacated railway corridor as a continuous green corridor through Singapore, of more than 120 that included local model and TV host Denise Keller gathered at the Rail Mall at 8 am to take a 3 km walk north not only to acquaint themselves with glimpses of the green corridor, but also to an area that was of historical significance to the first days of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, being the area where the first train that pulled in to Tanjong Pagar, had departed with its load of passengers that included Sir Cecil Clementi, the then Governor of Singapore, who opened Tanjong Pagar Railway Station on the 2nd of May 1932.

Among the more than 120 participants in the We Support the Green Corridor Walk was local TV personality and model Denise Keller.

The starting point of the We Support the Green Corridor walk was in the shadow of one of one of two truss bridges that give the Bukit Timah area its character, which was referred to in a comment left on the Facebook Page of the We Support the Green Corridor by the Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan Jin, which seemed to indicate it, along with the bridge at Bukit Timah Road near Bukit Timah Station and the bridge at Hindhede (at the entrance to Bulit Timah Hill Nature Reserve) would be retained. The news of this was certainly greeted by many with relief and even expressions of joy. The ending point of the walk was at the Bukit Panjang level crossing, what is the widest level crossing in Singapore close to where that first train to Tanjong Pagar had departed from at a station that no longer exists, Bukit Panjang. Through much of the walk, signs of the massive construction efforts to get what is ironically a new railway in the form of the Downtown MRT Line that takes a course for much of its way along what was the original Singapore to Kranji Line that was deviated to turn the line towards Tanjong Pagar. It is also ironic that the new railway would in all probability hasten the greying of a corridor that the old railway has for so many years kept green for us.

Participants on a We Support the Green Corridor walk caught a glimpse of a southbound train on the black truss bridge over Upper Bukit Timah Road. Many on the walk expressed relief when they learnt that this bridge was not part of the structures that would be removed in tender awarded to Indeco to dismantle the tracks and ancilliary structures scheduled to be carried out from July to November 2011.

Through much of the accessible parts of the green corridor and at Bukit Timah Station, there were indeed many who were seen to greet the passing trains, a last chance for many to see the passing of trains through Singapore and to bid farewell to a railway that will leave many who have taken a ride on it through the archways of the magnificent station at Tanjong Pagar with a sense of sadness and loss and to a group of people who through their dedication has provided Singapore with a wonderful association with the railway going back to 1903 when the Singapore to Kranji Line was completed. The outpouring of feeling is perhaps driven by the sense of loss not just for a railway that has served us for so long, but also for a landscape that could change drastically once the railway stops operating through Singapore. It is this landscape that many hope will be preserved, there is of course a balance between development and conservation that has to be found in all this, and while the railway land does free up development opportunities in many parts of Singapore, the benefits of maintaining a continuous green corridor as a shared recreational space which can also be used as an uninterrupted path from the north to the south of the island with which the use of bicycles as a means of transport becomes viable, cannot be understated. It is therefore encouraging that the Mr Tan Chuan Jin has in his comments stated that the authorities “remain committed to working closely with NSS and others who love this stretch of land so that we can develop this sensibly together”.

Many gathered at many places along the line to wave at the drivers of passing trains.

Many others were seen walking down the tracks for one last time ...

With that, there certainly is hope for a solution that would, as we wave our goodbyes and extend our gratitude to a railway and the men of the railway that we will soon lose, perhaps see some of the wonderful places and spaces that the railway has left behind be retained as it is for not just us but also for our future generations – that may at least preserve that fond memory of an old railway line that once ran right through the heart of Singapore.

The crowd at Bukit Timah Station.

... a passage to the north which on the 30th of June will no longer be used ...


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“.


Comments made by Minister of State for National Development Mr Tan Chuan Jin on the We Support the Green Corridor’s Facebook Page:

These 3 bridges are part of the agreement that will go back to Malaysia (Sg Mandai, Junction 10 and over Hill View Road). It has been a long negotiation process over many many things. We have retained what we can, including stretches of railway in areas near the stations. I am sure you know that these 3 are not the same as the iconic steel girder (believe he meant “truss”) bridges across Upper Bt Timah and Bt Timah Rds. The one at Hinhede will also remain. The other one close to Sunset Way that spans across Ulu Pandan Canal already belongs to us and will remain so.

We remain committed to working closely with NSS and others who love this stretch of land so that we can develop this sensibly together.

Our friends at URA and NParks care for the environment and heritage as much as many of you do but they also have to grapple with the dilemmas of ensuring living space for the many young Singaporeans who will be coming of age in the years ahead. As I have pointed out in my note, we are actively greening and blueing where we can and to work with the environment as much as possible.