At a retreat on 24 May 2010, leaders of Singapore and Malaysia agreed to relocate the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) station at Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) from 1 July 2011. Several questions quickly emerged. What would become of the historic Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the auxiliary stations along the twenty-six kilometre track? Would the former rail corridor be redeveloped and if so, how would be it used? What would happen to the history, heritage and social memories of the former KTM railway land?
Background to KTM Rail Corridor
The development of the railway in Singapore is not just part of the socio-economic history of British activity in the region, but also a catalyst for local histories. From the mid to late nineteenth century, Singapore began to act as a key distribution and collection point for British Malaya as well as the wider region of Southeast Asia. Communication and transportation infrastructure were also developed in tandem with Singapore’s increasing importance in the colonial economy established by the British in the region.
The first railway line (from Tank Road to Bukit Timah) was laid in 1903, and by 1907, various extensions connected the railway to Woodlands (and the Malaya peninsula beyond) and to the wharves in Pasir Panjang. In 1932, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was officially opened. It replaced the station at Tank Road and became the centre for communities supporting the station and the railway.
The Society’s Position and Response
The Singapore Heritage Society supports the gazetting of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as a National Monument and Bukit Timah Railway Station as a Conserved Building. The Society is also represented on the Rail Corridor Consultation Group (RCCG), chaired by Minister of State (National Development and Manpower) Tan Chuan Jin,.
The Society, in tandem with the government and other supporters, is working to research and document various aspects of the former KTM railway land, such as the physical assets (e.g. stations, staff quarters, bridges), and cartographic history.
See for more details: Singapore Heritage Society’s Rail Corridor Information Sheet
Public interest has been strong and vibrant. Here are some of the more active websites keeping track of developments in the former KTM Rail Corridor.
The Green Corridor: A campaign website which not only serves as a focal point for public interest in the former KTM Rail Corridor, but also as an archive for various stories, pictures and videos on the railway and its surroundings.
Journeys through Tanjong Pagar: A more personal and pictorial take on Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and it’s “tributaries”…
Singapore Railway Heritage Interactive Map
In 2012, the SHS initiated a research and documentation project of the railway heritage of Singapore. As part of this exercise, a team of architectural conservators, photographers and geographer undertook a systematic photo-documentation and GIS mapping of the former railway line (the main north-south line from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands). This fieldwork establishes a baseline visual record and inventory of the railway landscape at this point in time prior to future developments. SHS hopes that making the railway heritage interactive map available as an online resource will stimulate public interest and discourse, inform sensitive development plans, and spur further research into this important part of Singapore’s history.
For more information on the Singapore Heritage Society’s efforts in addressing the former KTM Rail Corridor issue, please contact us at email@example.com.