Saturday, 31 December 2011

Bade Adieu To Our Old Railway Station

Another year has come to an end. Flipping through the newspaper this morning, articles were recounting some of the eventful & uneventful happenings in Singapore & around the world. One of the most memorable departure of the year was our Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station. The picture showing a crowd taking pictures of the train pulling out of the station on 30th June 2011, the last day of the station's operations, spoke volumes. It reminded me of the stories of Thomas, The Tank Engine I read to my boys when they were young. Where the trains took on their own characters and the passengers applauded them whenever an accident was averted. Then there was the train ride we took in New Zealand on one of the holidays and most of all were the train rides I took with my mother when I was young from this Tanjong Pagar Train Station. We usually take the train to Penang. Though the journey was long. I still remember the beautiful scenery along the town stops and countryside. There were padi fields, rubber & palm trees plantations, tin mines, not forgetting the mountains and valleys. The song 'Morningtown Ride' by 'The Seekers' go hand in hand with this lovely memory etched in my heart. The night ride to KL (Kuala Lumpur) where I slept in the upper bunk was fun. Waking up the next morning to peer out of the tiny train window to see the lush green padi fields against the backdrop of a hill on that bright sunny morning was priceless.

This station was built in 1932 when  Singapore and Malaysia formed the British colony known as Malaya. Prior to its official closing, hundreds of people came to the station for one last look at its unique Neo-Classical & Art-Deco architecture. The building's facade consist of four marble statues representing the four economic pillars  of Malaya - Agriculture, Commerce, Transport & Industry. Another significant feature of the station is its 72 ft high barrel vault roof over the central waiting hall and the large tiled wall murals depicting scenes from Malaya like rice planting, rubber tapping, shipping activities, bullock cart transport, palm trees farming and tin mining. 

People were allowed to go on the railway tracks to explore and take pictures. When the last train was driven out of Singapore, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar of Johor took the wheels for a sentimental cause. After all it was his great grandfather, the late Sultan Ibrahim, who opened the Causeway. Parts of the KTM railway will be retained. The Railway Station will be preserved as a national monument.

- o x 0 x o -

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