Rail Against the Dying of the Light

When the Ekspres Senandung Sutera cuts through the Singapore night at 10pm on June 30, an era will draw to a close. Since 1932, Tanjung Pagar (as it’s spelled on Malaysian signage) has been the southern terminus of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) system. The station and the strip of land leading to Johor belonged to Malaysia, a fact which has helped create a verdant, heritage-rich sliver in contrast to the world of concrete and steel that rose up around it. That may change now that the land is being handed over to Singapore. It is satisfying to know that the station will be conserved but this is your last chance to see it bustling as it did for eight decades—besides, the Green Corridor along the track may disappear altogether. If you care about Singapore’s history, enjoy good food or just love nature, here’s what you should be doing this week.
Take One Final Ride
While the railway used to be Singapore’s most important artery, it was forgotten for many years; recalled only with a laugh and a comment about outdated transport. That isn’t the case now and there is a mad rush among Singaporeans to get their hands on remaining train tickets. It isn’t too late for that last ride though; tickets to JB Sentral and other nearby stations like Kulai and Kluang can only be purchased at the Tanjong Pagar ticket counter 24 hours in advance. Your best chance is the daily 7:15am shuttle service, with sales opening at 6am. It’s possible to complete a return trip in around three hours. As you might imagine, longer rides to Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth are almost completely sold out, but you can try your luck in person at the station, on the KTM website (www.ktmb.com.my) or by calling KTM’s ticket booking hotline (+60 (3) 2267-1200).
Enjoy a Last Supper
Some of our fondest recollections about Tanjong Pagar Railway Station involve food and the loss of the stalls there will be keenly felt by late-night diners. If tickets are hard to come by, or you simply don’t have time to travel across the Causeway, a table is waiting for you at M. Hasan Railway Station Canteen and M. Hasan 2 Railway Food Station, local favorites since 1976. M. Hasan 2 is inside the main building and its stalls include Island Power Food, Haqqani King Prata, Noor Muslim Food, Oasis Rojak and Hikmah Ramly Burgers. M. Hasan is right by the arrival track and it’s home to Bambai Seafood, Belkis Chicken Rice and the simply-named Nasi Lemak Panas (Hot).
Walk the Green Corridor
More than 3,000 people have already thrown their weight behind “We support The Green Corridor in Singapore” (www.facebook.com/thegreencorridor). Set up by Eugene Tay, founder of environmental consultancy firm Green Future Solutions, the page is aligned with the Nature Society (Singapore) proposal to preserve the tract of Railway Land. He believes that the Corridor, with its historic landmarks and flourishing ecosystem, has immeasurable value to Singaporeans. “The Green Corridor will strengthen our shared memories by preserving our past while creating opportunities for education and discovery,” says Tay. “When we talk about our shared memories, it brings smiles, and brings us closer together, knowing we have experienced the same history.” Tay is organizing morning walks along the Corridor this weekend (Bukit Timah Railway Station to Holland Road on Jun 25 and Rail Mall to Choa Chu Kang on Jun 26; both start at 8am).
For more information, visit www.thegreencorridor.org and “like” the Green Corridor page on Facebook.