Completed on 3rd of May 1932, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is owned by Malaysia’s Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM). It is the southernmost terminal of the Malaysian Railway (West Coast Line).
Before the completion of this terminal, passengers taking the trains boarded and alighted at Tank Road station, part of the Singapore-Kranji railway that was built in 1903. Other than Tank Road, the railway line also had eight other stations (Pasir Panjang, Borneo Wharf, Newton, Cluny Road, Holland Road, Bukit Timah, Bukit Panjang and Woodlands).
After the causeway was built in 1923, the railway in Singapore linked up with its Malaysian counterpart. Previously, passengers need to use ferry boats to cross the 1km straits.
The design of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is modeled after Finland’s Helsinki Central Railway Station. The four giant figures at the entrance of the station representing Industry, Agriculture, Commerce and Transport were the works of Italian sculptor Rudolfo Nolli (1888 – 1963).
The interior of the railway station is spacious and houses many small eateries, including a famous Nasi Biryani stall dubbed as one of the best in Singapore. There used to be a lot of street hawkers at the carpark outside the railway station. They gradually disappeared in the 80s, after the station’s eateries opened up to public for leasing.
For generations, a family business runs a small shop that is a money changer, book store and convenience shop all rolled into one.
The tall ceiling of the main hall ensures enough sunlight covers the building, giving it a bright and cheerful feeling. In the past, there were hotel accommodation for tourists and visitors on the second floor (known as Lim Eng Peng’s Station Hotel, closed in 1993).
There are six murals on the walls of the main hall, which also represent the four themes of the railway station (ie Industry, Agriculture, Commerce and Transport).
The expressionist-styled murals, displaying Malaysian art, still possess rich and vibrant colours even after 70-plus years. It mostly contains the colours of yellow and orange to express a tropical feel, and the pictures demonstrate the life in Malaysia and Singapore of the early 19th century.
The railway station also houses the offices of Malaysian Custom and Malaysian Police.
Commuters can take the trains which travel along the west coast of Malaysia, passing by major Malaysian cities such as Johor Bahru, Kluang, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur (capital), Ipoh, Taiping, Penang and all the way to the Malaysia-Thailand border. The total distance is close to 950km. There is also another line that splits from Gemas and cuts through the heart and reaches the east coast of the peninsula.
In April 2011, the government announced that the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station will be conserved as national monument. Prior to this, there had been suggestions to turn the place into a museum, or refurbish it into a pub-and-restaurant.
The railway station is officially closed on 1st July 2011, bring the curtains down on its glorious 80-year history. Commuters will have to catch the northbound trains and depart from the new Woodlands station in the future.
See Singapore Railway for information on the other parts of the railway system in Singapore.
Published: 23 October 2010
Updated: 26 October 2011