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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Curtains down


KTMB worker turning a locomotive around manually.

KTMB worker turning a locomotive around manually.

KTMB will stop operating its Tanjung Pagar and Bukit Timah stations in Singapore at the end of the month.  

The last Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) train out of Tanjong Pagar station, Singapore, will arrive on Malaysian soil at the stroke of midnight on June 30. The 67 KTMB staff, based on the island, will be onboard. 

From July 1, the railway services will be concentrated at the new JB Sentral transport hub. The curtains will close on the Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Timah stations, and KTMB's rail services to Singapore will end at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP).

"We hope to be part of the last train back to Johor," said Stanley Tan, a member of the Singapore-based KTMB Railway Fan Club.
Atan Ahmad has been working at the Bukit Timah railway station for 20 years.

Tan, who has been chronicling the history of railways in Malaysia and Singapore, said the club was thinking about holding a gathering to mark the occasion on the night of June 30."

The last train out of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is scheduled to leave at 11pm on June 30. 

He said, adding that it was going to be a sad day for club members.

Tanjong Pagar railway station was built in 1932. During the early days, the railway services served as an important link between Singapore and the Federated Malay States. It served as a trade link between the vegetable and agricultural producers on the mainland and consumers in Singapore. Later it would be a part of the Malayan Railways.

The journey from Johor Baru to Tanjong Pagar which takes only 45 minutes to one hour has been described as a relaxing way to enter the island republic and an alternative to the bumper-to-bumper traffic crawl on the Causeway.

Outgoing KTMB Tanjong Pagar station manager Shamsul Bahri Sahri, 43, said the railway line, Bukit Timah railway station and the art deco Tanjong Pagar railway station had great historical value.

"These rail facilities are part of the history of the railway transport system in Singapore," said Shamsul who has worked at the Tanjong Pagar railway station for 15 years.

"I would be lying if I said I didn't feel sad over the handover of Tanjong Pagar station." 

Under the agreement between Malaysia and Singapore, the Tanjong Pagar site and other KTMB-owned land in the republic will be developed by M-S Pte Ltd. Khazanah Nasional Bhd has a 60 per cent stake in the company and Temasek Holdings Ltd of Singapore has 40 per cent.

Agreement was reached during a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, last year. - NST

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