Singapore Railways

Please note:- this is a historical site only. For current information, timetables and tickets please visit the official website of the appropriate railway.

KTMB is at http://www.ktmb.com.my/

Overview

        This page was originally created as an overflow for my Malayan Railways site and should be used in conjunction with it. For those not familiar with the region Singapore is an island state, roughly the size and shape of the Isle of Wight, situated at the southern tip of the Malay peninsular. The metre-gauge Malayan Railway (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) enters Singapore via the Johore Causeway at Woodlands, where the immigration and customs facilities are now located, and runs across the centre of the island, via Bukit Timah, to a terminus at Tanjong Pagar, adjacent to the container terminal on the south-western edge of the city. At Bukit Timah there is a passing loop, and it was also a junction for a freight only branch to Jurong, which closed in the mid 1990s. Steam finished on the island in 1972 and most of the early diesels have now gone also. Scroll down for a history of Singapore Railways. In the mid 1980's a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system was commenced and is still expanding. It runs underground in the city but on the surface or elevated throughout the rest of the island. The trains are driverless 6-car electric sets but there are also some diesel shunters and Bo-Bo units for permanent way work. There are monorail systems (for pleasure purposes) on Sentosa Island and at the Jurong Bird Park. On the industrial front there was a harbour railway at Loyang, an admiralty railway from Woodlands to Sembawang, several sidings to military depots, private sidings with a diesel shunter in Jurong and an extensive system in the Port of Singapore, which had its own fleet of steam, and later diesel, shunters. One of the dry docks in Singapore also boasted a steam crane on broad gauge tracks, this was later preserved on Sentosa Island in the Maritime Museum until 2002 and some of the artifacts are now installed along the Harbour Front precinct. They include a lighthouse, an anchor, a harpoon, a pair of gate posts and the steam crane .

. I have a few photographs from all these locations and some can be accessed via the thumbnails below. Many others are already included in the Malayan Railway site.

Loyang -> Jurong -> Port of Singapore ->

Steam crane at work->

Sentosa monorail ->

More pictures can be found here.

History

The first indication I can find of any railways in Singapore is a picture taken in the 1870's of bullock carts in the docks which has a single track line running through the foreground. This appears in "Singapore then and now, volume 2" by Ray Tyers. In the same book is a picture of Tanjong Pagar Road in 1892 showing a double track tram line junction complete with steam trams. There is also a picture of the Tank Road terminus (see below) taken in 1910. A steam tramway was operated (one report suggested to Kranji but this was actually a plan which did not come to completion - see The Kranji Electric Tram) from 1885-1894 and there were two electric tramway experiments: along a block of track at the docks in September, 1891, and along a mile of track on "The Kranji Electric Line" in September, 1892. This was in fact a special track laid for the purpose on ground owned by the Sultan of Johore near Kranji. An electric tram system was opened in the city on 25th July 1905, and by 1907 was operating 60 trams on more than 26 miles of track. All rail operation ended on April 9, 1927, although I understand electric trolley buses operated for a lot longer.

The first record I can find of locomotives being supplied to Singapore is in 1877 when Dick and Stevenson supplied two 0-4-0ST shunters numbered 1 & 2. They were apparently sent to the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company steam railway which was on their mile-long wharf which, according to an 1880 report "essentially aids the labour of unloading vessels", of which 40 could be accommodated at one time.

Click here for details of the steam tram locomotives.

The National Archives of Singapore have numerous pictures, many of which are duplicated several times and these have wildly fluctuating dates. For example, one picture has been posted several times with dates ranging from 1890 to 1930. The information I have so far comes from a number of sources and there are some discrepancies in the details but I have already come across a number of dated photographs which will prove invaluable in creating a more accurate picture. I also have copies of old newspaper articles which provide accurate dates of notable events.

I have created a separate page for tram systems but am still searching for more information and pictures. Any information or pictures which can be used on this site would be most welcome, please send by e-mail.

I have come across two different versions of the history of the first railway; the first was based on original ideas and subsequent assumptions and should be ignored.

Early plans/ideas, not acted on.

The following has appeared in some history books but was an idea or plan which was not acted upon. "In 1871, plans were made for a railway from New Harbour (now Keppel Harbour) to the town, but it was not until 30 years later that a line was actually laid down from Telok Blangah over Craig Hill to the People's Park (off New Bridge Road). Thence it was continued across the river by way of Pulau Saigon, and along Tank Road, Cuppage Road and Clemenceau Avenue to Newton Circus. In 1902, it reached the Johore Straits at Kranji." The plan is true but the rest was an assumption based on early ideas and a final layout some 30-40 years later. Subsequent research and information has proved it to be misleading, as the first railway was built from Singapore to Woodlands, opening in 1903, while the extension from Singapore to the docks did not open until 1907. My thanks to Margie Hall for supplying the corrections. A reading of old newspapers of the day has provided a great deal of information on the early plans from the 1870s which will appear here eventually, but apart from the dock railway and tramways mentioned above no other railways are known to have existed in Singapore in the nineteenth century.

Correct version, updated December 2010.

The Straits Settlements Acting Colonial Engineer carried out a traffic survey in 1896 and his report follows:-

From the Singapore Free Press, 30 October 1896, page 2.

 

THE SINGAPORE – KRANJI RAILWAY

            Report by Captain F. J. Anderson, R. E., Acting Colonial Engineer, on the Statistics of Traffic passing over the Singapore – Kranji Line of Road, during the year ended June 30th 1896.

 

Collection of Statistics.

1.         The distance from Kandang Kerbau (Singapore) to Kranji is 13½ miles and the level of traffic was recorded at 3 points, viz., Wayang Satu, Bukit Timah and Bukit Mandai Police Stations, situated at 2N, 6 and 11I miles, respectively, from the Singapore terminus. The details of the traffic were taken under the following headings:-

Foot passengers with and without bundles.

Hack gharries, loaded, with number of occupants, distinguishing European, Eurasian and Native.

Hack gharries, empty.

Coaches, with number of occupants.

Private carriages, with number of occupants.

Rikishas, loaded, with number of occupants.

Rikishas, empty.

Bullock-carts, with contents.

Cattle.

Explanation of Totalling.

2.         In estimating the traffic, all foot passengers have been counted as 3rd class, while occupants of hack gharries, coaches, private carriages and Rikishas have been classed, according to nationality, Europeans, 1st; Eurasians, 2nd; and Natives, 3rd; and no account has been taken of anything else. Occupants of bullock carts have been left out of consideration.

The nett result is that, taking the passing in both directions, we have a total for the year of:-

 

Wayang Satu

Bukit Timah

Kranji

1st class – Europeans

38,155

5,096

6,314

2nd class – Eurasians

7,240

3,514

2,613

3rd class - Natives

641,639

273,739

163,503

The goods traffic being small has been left out of the calculation altogether.

Probable Traffic

The accompanying return marked A shews the figures, month by month.

3.         In considering the question of a mere (metre?) gauge railway, I have thought it advisable to assume that only 50 per cent. of the 3rd class and 75 per cent. of the 1st. and 2nd classes will use the line, the through fares being fixed at 80 cents, 40 cents, and 20 cents, respectively, according to class, compared with the existing bus fare of 50 cents and 35 cents, according to seats, and rikisha fare of 72 cents, or 90 cents for two. I have purposely fixed the fares low in order to compete with the rikisha traffic.

I have further assumed that the above proportions of the passengers passing each of the above three points of observation would traverse one-third of the line, or, in other words, pay one-third of the above fares. As I have allowed for five stopping points in addition to the three principle stations at Kandang Kerbau, Bukit Timah and Kranji, I think the allowance a fair one.

In considering the passenger traffic, the fact should not be lost sight of that mail and other passengers staying a short time in Singapore are sure to use the line extensively.

4.         The total estimated revenue is thus made up as follows:-

Estimated revenue

1st class, …

37,173 @ 80/3 cents …

$ 9,913

2nd class, …

10,026 @ 40/3 cents …

$ 1,337

3rd class, …

539,440 @ 20/3 cents …

$ 35,962

 

Total …

$47,212

 

 

 

            I have made no rebate on account of reduction in rates for return and season tickets, but, on the other hand, no credit has been taken for goods traffic.

Cost of Line

            5.         The accompanying rough estimate B, prepared by Mr. Graves, Engineer Surveyor, under my instructions, from an available survey, provides for a fully equipped line hugging the road all the way from Kandang Kerbau to Kranji at a cost of $496,868, equivalent to a rate of $35,490 per mile, as we assume the line at 14 miles long to allow of any slight deviations which may be found necessary. It has been laid down that a single line with rails of about 30 to 40 lbs. per yard can be built in almost any part of the world for £4,000 per mile, including all equipment, assuming that the line starts from the seaboard, as it does in this case. This figure, of course, includes large bridges, of which we have none, and contemplates a line suited to light goods traffic. I am of the opinion that the line should not cost much, if anything, over $30,000 a mile.

            6.         Coming now to the details of the estimate –

            Preliminary survey is allotted $3,400, which should be ample, considering the open and generally flat nature of the country to be traversed.

            Acquisition of land is taken at $2,000. Up to the 7th mile there is a Government 40-foot reserve only separated from the existing cart road by a small canal, and as the road is level for the whole distance, it is assumed that the line will make use of this reserve. For the remaining seven miles, I have assumed that a strip of land 60 feet wide will have to be acquired, making a total of, say, 50 acres, the cost of which the Land Office estimates at $40 per acre, or $2,000 in all.

            Earthwork has been cubed out from actual measurements.

            Ballast has been taken of the same section as is found necessary on the Selangor Railway, which carries goods traffic.

            Steel rails. - A 46 lb. section has been allowed for at present market rates. This would be needlessly heavy, if there were no possibility of goods traffic, but it is considered better to be prepared in that direction.

            As a matter of fact, I believe the Selangor Railway, which is similarly railed, is about to adopt a heavier section, owing to increasing goods traffic, and it might be possible to acquire the rejected material (if found in good condition) at a low price.

            Sleepers. – I have allowed for wooden (Mirabow) sleepers, but it might be advisable to adopt steel sleepers, which would come to 2½ times the cost of those allowed for. That is a matter for after-consideration.

            Spikes, Fishplates and Bolts have been allowed for in the usual proportions.

            Laying the permanent Way could be effected telescopically certainly from the Kranji terminus, and, possibly, from the Singapore end also.

            Iron Wire Fencing has been allowed for along one side of the line only, as the other is bounded by a deep ditch or canal. It might be found desirable to substitute a wire fence with Bintangor uprights, which would cost only one half of the amount allowed, as no doubt, before it decayed, its place would be taken by a live hedge.

            Bridges and Culverts. – The estimate for these is based on the survey previously alluded to. The total openings to be crossed are as follows:-

2 feet span

8

3 feet span

24

5 feet span

47

13 feet span

23

15 feet span

    2 

 

104

And the accompanying returns C and D show the list of openings and abstract of the cost of building them.

            Platforms. – Eight in all are allowed for, two at the terminal stations (Singapore and Kranji), one at the intermediate station (Bukit Timah), and five at various stopping places on the road. Each platform will be 200 feet by 20, with face wall of brick, and brick on edge coping – earthwork being metalled six inches deep.

            Level Crossings. – The usual guard rails and metalled approaches are allowed for, as well as gates for the main thoroughfares.

            Station Buildings and Fittings. – This includes the three main stations as well as quarters for the staff, signallers’ cabins, watering places and an engine shed and shop at Singapore. We have the necessary tools and plant available at Kandang Kerbau.

            Telegraph Line. – this has been allowed for at figures supplied by the Selangor Government. It is a question whether a telegraph line will be necessary – first, because it is in contemplation to erect a telephone line for Police use next year; and, secondly, because the traffic on such a short line might, in any case, be worked by the tally system.

            Rolling Stock, etc. – In calculating the amount of rolling stock required

to work the traffic, it has been assumed that two trains will be kept at work on the line (each making three trips backwards and forwards between Singapore and Kranji – or a total of twelve single trips for the two) and that a spare train will be kept available for emergencies or accidents. Each train is made up of:-

 

Engine

 

1

 

Carriages

First class to seat …

17

1

 

 

Second class to seat …

17

1

 

 

Third class to seat …

46

3

 

 

Covered goods wagon

 

1

 

 

Luggage and brake van

 

1

 

 

Total

8

Vehicles.

            In calculating the rolling stock required, I have thought of it advisable to take the gross total of passenger traffic recorded as passing any one point on the road as the basis of calculation. Thus the yearly traffic, 1st class, in both directions at Wayang Satu is 38,155 per annum, or 105 per diem. Dividing this by 12 gives us 9 passengers per train, so one first class carriage is allowed. Similarly the second class works out to 2 passengers per train, but this will doubtless be considerably increased in actual practice, so one carriage is allotted, while the third class will require three carriages.

            I have also allowed two open trucks to meet any traffic in rice and garden produce. A 5-ton break-down crane, five material trollies and three Inspectors trollies are also added.

            The prices of rolling stock are taken from figures supplied by the Selangor Government.

Proportion of Working Expenses to Gross Receipts.

            6          I have assumed that 50 per cent of the total revenue will be required for working expenses, and I think the following proportions, obtaining on existing lines, shew that the assumption is a fair one.

            Mulhall gives the following proportions:-

Egyptian,

46 per cent

Indian,

50 per cent

United Kingdom, French, Belgian and South African

52 per cent

while the figures below are taken from Government reports:-

Indian Railways, massed, 1893-4

47 per cent

East Indian Railway, 1891

27 per cent

East Indian Railway, 1892,

28 per cent

Bengal and North-Western Railway, 1892,

35 per cent

Ceylon Railways, 1892,

48 per cent

Nizam’s State Railway, 1892,

46 per cent

Nizam’s State Railway, 1894,

46 per cent

and the figures supplied by the Selangor Government are:-

1891.

1892.

1893.

1894.

1895.

39.68

39.27

37.50

41.75

46.00

            7          Assuming then that the working expenses amount to 50 per cent of our estimated gross revenue of $47,212, we shall have an available return of $23,606 per annum, sufficient to pay a dividend of 4.75 per cent on the cost of the line, $496,868.

 

The text in green in the above article is my own as some was missing due to a crease on the page. In addition the accompanying returns labelled A, B, C & D were not with the article or in the paper. It will be noted that the two termini were not at Woodlands or Tank Road and the total length was just under 14 miles so obviously some changes were made during the next four years before construction started. It was reported in the same paper that the report was laid before the council meeting that day but had not been read so was set aside for future action. I will transcribe these articles later and will also search for more articles to cover the next 4 years, 1896-1899. I have found 30 further articles so far, showing that there were 3 sites considered for the Singapore terminus, further details will be published later, it will take me a few days to download the articles and a lot longer to transcribe them.

The following is based on perusal of official documents, reports, maps and photographs and is as accurate as the available documentation allows.

The Singapore - Kranji Railway, also known as the Singapore Government Railway and the Singapore - Johore Railway at various times, was constructed between 1900 and 1902 under the supervision of C.E.Spooner, the General Manager of the Federated Malay States Railway and was opened from the Singapore terminus in Fort Canning Park to Woodlands in two sections, Singapore to Bukit Timah on the 1st January 1903 and Bukit Timah to Woodlands on 10th April 1903. Total length at this time was 16 miles 79 chains. At Kranji there was a ferry connection to the Malayan mainland. The first station, simply known as Singapore, was along the northern side of River Valley Road with the entrance building opposite Read Road. From Singapore the line ran north-westwards and crossed Orchard Road by a bridge near Emerald Hill west of the Singapore Cold Storage by Cuppage Road. It continued northwards until reaching Newton station, near where Newton circus now is, and then ran along the north side of Bukit Timah Road, through Cluny station, just west of Adam Road, Holland Road station, and on to Bukit Timah station, which was across the road from Pei Wah Avenue, where the Halfway House stood in the 1960s. At Bukit Timah village the line turned north and ran via Bukit Panjang station, Mandai station and Kranji to Woodlands station, which was at the southern end of the present causeway, the section from Bukit Panjang still being in use until 30th June 2011 as far as Woodlands new station. In 1906-7 the line was extended southwards from a new station at Tank Road via Pulau Saigon bridge, Peoples Park (Chinatown) and Tanjong Pagar, and on to Pasir Panjang (at Chermin Bay) near Alexandra Brickworks. This I have not been able to identify but apparently there was a station near the junction of Alexandra Road, Telok Blangah Road and Pasir Panjang Road. This extension was opened on 21st January 1907. At this time there were stations at Passir Panjang (1907 spelling?), Borneo Wharf, Tank Road, Newton, Cluny Road, Holland Road (for the rifle range), Bukit Timah, Bukit Panjang and Woodlands. Total length of the line is stated as 19¾ miles, in which length are 55 gate-crossings, including 23 public level-crossings, where gatemen have to be maintained.

This map shows the extent and route of the line from 1907 and also the ferry crossing to Dakar pier in Johore.

Singapore and Kranji Railway station opening and closing dates

Singapore 01 Jan 1903 (Thu) This was the first station, by Fort Canning Hill opposite the Ord Road/River Valley Road junction, converted to goods 1907, closed 1936.
Newton 01 Jan 1903 (Thu),
closed 2nd May 1932 (Mon).
Cluny Road 01 Jan 1903 (Thu),
closed 2nd May 1932 (Mon).
Bukit Timah (old) 01 Jan 1903 (Thu),
closed 2nd May 1932 (Mon).

Bukit Panjang 10 Apr 1903 (Fri). No local timetables found since 1918.
Woodlands (old) 10 Apr 1903 (Fri).
Ceased to be a terminus when causeway opened to Passenger trains on 1st October 1923. Closed completely at 1926 realignment.

Holland Road 16 Jul 1903 (Thu), closed 10 March 1930.

Tank Road 21 Jan 1907 (Mon), closed 2nd May 1932 (Mon).
Borneo Wharf 21 Jan 1907 (Mon).
Closed to passengers by April 1912, last advertised service found 30th June 1911.
Pasir Panjang 21 Jan 1907 (Mon).
Closed to passengers by April 1912, last advertised service found 30th June 1911.

People's Park 01 Apr 1908 (Wed). Closed to passengers by April 1912, last advertised service found 30th June 1911.

Mandai was open by 1918 (in 1918 timetable change). No local timetables found since 1918.

Singapore (Tanjong Pagar) 2nd May 1932 at 5.15 pm (Mon), closed 30th June 2011 (Thu).

Alexandra halt 3rd May 1932 (Tue). No local timetables found since 1918.

Tanglin 3rd May 1932 (Tue). No local timetables found since 1918.

Bukit Timah (new) 3rd May 1932 (Tue), closed 30th June 2011 (Thu).

Kranji (1m 79ch S of Johore Bahru) was in Working Timetables but not in Passenger timetables. Maybe a military halt as near junction for naval base branch.

Woodlands (new) 1st August 1998 for southbound passengers only, 1st July 2011 for all passengers.

 

* Holland Road was first indicated in the Singapore and Kranji Railway timetable effective 1903 Jul 16.
*Tank Road was first indicated in the Singapore and Kranji Railway timetable effective 1907 Jan 21, previous timetable show Singapore.
* People's Park was first indicated in the Singapore and Kranji Railway timetable effective 1908 Apr 01.

* Mandai first appeared in the 1918 supplement, which showed the first full timetable since April 1912.

        I have copies of Singapore Railway timetables for various significant dates between 1903 and 1911  and FMSR timetables for 1912, 1917, 1918, 1920 and 1930. These show that initially services ran between Singapore and Bukit Timah with two extended to Woodlands when that section opened. When the Pasir Panjang section opened most trains were extended to that station and there was one daily service between Pasir Panjang and Tank Road, which replaced Singapore station on the same day. At first goods traffic was attached to the passenger trains but later there was a daily goods train in each direction. Passenger traffic on the Pasir Panjang line was never heavy and the service soon dwindled and had stopped by 1912 but freight was healthy and the line stayed open even after the Tank Road to Bukit Timah section had closed and eventually most of it passed to the port authority who had their own extensive railway system. I understand the Tank Road to Tanjong Pagar section closed by 1939 but Borneo Wharf to Pasir Panjang section was used by the Port Authority until much later.

Links to timetables for the following dates:

Singapore Railway 1903 1904-1906 1907-1908 1909-1911 FMSR 1912 1917-1918 1920 1930  

So, has any reader ever come across any of these? Quite likely they have all long since been discarded so another big slice of history has been lost forever.  My guess is that 10 cents in 1919 was an awful lot of money. Regular local travellers would have no need of these pocket timetables and visitors could get their information from their hotel.

 

  

     Three A class 4-4-0T locomotives built by Hunslet were supplied in 1901 with a fourth in October 1903. They were capable of pulling 99 tons up a gradient of 1/100 at 15 mph. Two similar but more powerful locomotives of B class were supplied in April 1906 and May 1907, these being capable of hauling 160 tons under the same conditions. A third B class locomotive was supplied by Hawthorn Leslie in 1911. In 1907 there were 25 passenger coaches and 46 six-ton goods wagons.

    These same type of locomotives were also supplied to various railways in Malaya and other parts of the world from the 1880s. All were the same basic design but had minor detail differences. All those in Malaya and Singapore were incorporated into the FMSR by 1912 and although none of these have survived one which was sold originally to the Valencia Tramway Company in Spain was later sold to the FESA railway in Tortosa, Spain, where it was still at work in the 1960s. When the line closed in 1969 the locomotive was preserved in a local park where it is still well looked after.

        The Singapore Government Railway operated independently up to 31st December 1911. On 1st January 1912 the operation was transferred to the Federated Malay States Railway. The Singapore Railway Transfer Ordinance of 25th October 1918 authorised the sale of the Singapore Railway and its associated land to the Federation of Malaya for the sum of S$4,136,000. It also authorised the construction of an embankment or causeway across the Johore Straits.

        I heard in June 2005 that there was a station called Borneo park (2006 update - it is Borneo Wharf) near Breeze Hill in Tanjong Pagar, shown on a 1923 map, in the V formed by Keppel Road and Nelson Road. The same map also shows a Peoples Park station at approximately the spot where Pearl Bank school now stands (or did in 1963 & 1975). These were both on the railway to Pasir Panjang, opened in 1907. A 1905 map showing the railway between Breeze Hill and Orchard Road shows only one station on a short spur approximately where the Van Kleef aquarium later stood. Later maps, including 1913 and 1923, show Tank Road station further north, between Penang Lane and Tank Road (now Clemenceau Avenue), and the spur to the earlier station just as a siding. Thanks to Nadia Wright for this information. In fact the original 1903 station was where the National Theatre later stood but this later became the goods or engine yard and a new station was built about 1906 on what is now the site of the Haw Par centre for the opening of the extension to Pasir Panjang. A 1930s map shows Holland Road station where Ascot Rise now is, at the junction of Holland Road and Bukit Timah Road, just over 6 miles from the town centre. The same map does not show either Cluny station or Newton station. Nadia has also sent me a reference to Holland Road station on 16-11-04. There is a 1930 map which shows the line from Orchard Road to Tanjong Berlayer and also the course of the proposed deviation to Bukit Timah. No other stations are shown on this map. My 1946-54 map shows the line from Tanjong Berlayer still in situ as far as gate 7 but then remaining on the south side of Keppel Road and remaining in the docks area. The line from Breeze Hill is still intact also but instead of running into Tanjong Pagar station it now turns north to join the new line towards Bukit Timah. There is no connection from Breeze Hill to the old line south of Keppel Road. Can anyone shed any more light on these please. The Singapore Government Railway was purchased by the FMSR in 1912 as an isolated line. There may have been stations other than those mentioned but I can find no information as yet. I have just come across another map, dated 1907, which shows the line from Cluny to Pasir Panjang in very good detail, but it only shows stations at Cluny Road, Newton and Tank Road. It is possible that it was drawn before the extension opened.

        July/September 2006 update - I have been sent some more old maps, one dated 1898 showing the proposed route of the railway continuing west and then north-west from Dunearn Road near where Jalan Jurong kechil now is to a point near the western extremity of Bukit Batok park, then turning sharply north-east to join the present route just north of the bridge across Upper Bukit Timah road, to the south of Bukit Panjang. The other is a 1925 FMSR map showing stations and distances as follows: Kempas Halt 464½, Tampoi 467¾, Johore Bahru 472, Woodlands 473¾, Mandai 477¾, Bukit Panjang 479, Bukit Timah 482¼, Holland Road 483¼, Cluny 485, Newton 487, Tank Road /Singapore 488¼, Tanjong Pagar 490¼ and Pasir Panjang 493¼. This is the first time I have heard of a Mandai station. There is no mention of Borneo Wharf station. Yet more maps recently arrived - it shows a station on the Pasir Panjang branch in the same location as the present Tanjong Pagar station. I have since determined that this was overlayed on an old map to show where the new station would be but there was no need for a station there as Borneo Wharf station was only a short distance away. At approximately the point where the current entrance to Tanjong Pagar station now is there was a branch leading off south-eastwards across Keppel road into the docks. This is shown on a 1923 map of the docks. The original Bukit Timah station was on the site later occupied by the Halfway House night club and restaurant close to the junction of Jalan Jurong Kechil and Upper Bukit Timah Road, opposite Pei Wah Avenue, and nowhere near the present line.

The original Woodlands station was parallel to the coast with the station building on the north side immediately west of where the causeway was later built and a covered walkway from the eastern end went out to sea for a short distance to a jetty for foot passengers. From October 1903 these passengers were ferried across to Abu Bakar pier which was opposite the Johore Hotel. This appears to have been where the causeway was later built. From about 1910 the line was extended some 100 metres east to a jetty for goods wagons .  These were taken across on another ferry to the Railway pier in Johore, which was located east of where the causeway was later built. Over time a large yard was built up between the causeway and the old goods wagon jetty and beyond and in early 1942 this was used to store all the locomotives brought over from the mainland during the Japanese invasion of Malaya. Admiralty road was later built along this alignment but at first was named Naval Base Road. The Naval Base branch was built along the south side of this road at the same time (1926/7) as per this map.

Click here for a map I modified to show the original alignment of the line from Mandai to Woodlands and the location of Woodlands station. The map dates from 1945 so I have erased some of the roads, the causeway and later railway lines. The railway was realigned in 1926/7 to cater for the Woodlands road deviation of that time and also to build the new branch line for the future Naval Base.

There was also a station at Kranji, it is shown in the 1958 Working Timetable as 1m 79c from Johore Bahru. There is a 1927 map which shows the route of the line and stations (I have yet to see it). One copy is for sale at the Antiques of the Orient in Tanglin Shopping Centre for S$7,000. There may well be a copy available for viewing in the British Library in London - I understand photocopying is not permitted but tracing is! I now have some copies of segments of a map which shows the alignment of the tracks and positions of the stations from 1926 to 1945, and also a full description of the changes carried out in the 1926 realignment between Bukit Panjang and Woodlands which explains where the original alignment was.

December 2007 update on the Tank Road to Tanjong Pagar line.

        This line closed some 75 years ago but over the last few days I have been looking to see if any trace is left of it. Surprisingly, I have found that it is possible to walk almost the entire length of the old route. This is partly because new roads were built over the trackbed but in many places very little has been built and the original earthworks can still be seen. From Penang Road through to Havelock Road the whole route has been covered by Clemenceau Avenue and the only evidence is the earthworks around Fort Canning. If you stand on the Oxley flyover (yes, there is a footpath across it) and look north you are looking at the site of Tank Road new station (1907-1933). If you turn round and look south you are looking at the site of the old Singapore station (1903-1907) alongside River Valley Road opposite Read road, which later became the goods yard and running sheds. South of Havelock Road there is a housing block which you can walk through the middle of (between 51 & 53) and you come to the east side of Pearl's Hill where Pearl's Hill Hostel appears to have been built along the trackbed. Beyond here the railway swung right slightly and crossed Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road at an angle of about 45 degrees, roughly opposite Kreta Ayer Road and entered what is now Duxton Plains Park where a footpath has been laid approximately over the track bed and this curves gently to the left until it reaches Yan Kit Road. At the mid point of this section the path passes under Neil Road, via the old railway bridge, there may have been a level-crossing here at one time (the old line had 53 of these). After crossing Yan Kit road the line started to swing westwards passing through the site of the now disused Yan Kit swimming complex, across Cantonment Road and along where Cantonment Link is to the car park at Tanjong Pagar.

        Today (30 December) I walked the section from Tank Road to Newton. Part of the old embankment is still in place between Buyong Road and Killiney Road behind the car park next to Penang Road. All traces of the bridge were removed during construction of Somerset MRT station and the corner of Robinsons obscures where the railway went, I walked along Emerald Hill Road to just after Hullet Road, then down an alley between the houses on the east side and behind the houses is the route of the old line. I walked back to where a door lead through a building and out on to Orchard Road. Going northward from here there is a path at the foot of what appears to be the embankment for a while, then you have to go through the new tunnel beside Clemenceau Avenue which you then follow to Newton Circus. Any traces on this last section have been obliterated by all the road works.

        A number of maps showing the line from Bukit Panjang to Pasir Panjang via Tank Road have surfaced over the years and most of them differ to a certain extent on the precise alignment of the line. I have now obtained some partial copies of cadastral maps showing the precise alignment and have also received more photographs of the Orchard Road area and a few other places.

Click here for a large scale map of the Tank Road area showing basic track layout and bridges

Click here for a colour map showing the line between Bukit Timah Road and Borneo Wharf

Click here for an early map showing the line from Tank Road to Newton.

Click here for details of the early Singapore Railway locomotives.

In 1919 construction of the Singapore-Johore causeway commenced and the railway from Woodlands to Johore Bahru, 54 chains long, was opened to goods traffic on 17th September 1923 and passenger traffic on 1st October 1923. The causeway was officially opened by Sir Lawrence Guillemard, Governor of the Straits Settlements, on 28th June 1924.

In the 1920s plans were drawn up for a Naval Base to be built at Sembawang and hence a branch line and new road would be built from Woodlands to serve this facility. At the same time the railway and road from Mandai to Woodlands would be upgraded. While the railway was more or less direct the road was very winding and prone to accidents. It was decided to build a new deviation for the road which would use the railway track-bed from the 15th mile. A new concrete railway bridge was built over the Sungei Mandai to take two tracks and the branch line to the Naval Base left the main line at this point but continued parallel to it as far as Woodlands, both on a new alignment slightly further west than previously. At Woodlands the two tracks crossed the old alignment and bypassed Woodlands station which was no longer used, the main line crossing the causeway and the branch running alongside the new road to the Naval Base, about 4 miles distant. This project started in 1926 and was scheduled to take 6 months.

Also in the 1920's plans were made to build a new terminus in Keppel Road and this was completed in 1932. The 8 miles 52 chains deviation line from Bukit Timah to Keppel Road station was opened to traffic on 3rd May 1932. This 1924 map shows the layout at that time, with a 3-way split under Kampong Bahru road bridge with the left hand track going eastwards as a goods siding, the centre track continuing to Tanjong Pagar station and the right hand track going southwards across Keppel Road and continuing as the Pasir Panjang branch, presumably for freight traffic to the various wharves and also to connect to the extensive dockyard system around Empire dock (Track not shown). The area around Borneo Wharf station then became part of the new goods yard. This is how the layout appears on a 1945 map. The original line from Tank Road to Bukit Timah was dismantled by 1936 (not shown on 1936 map) and some of the track-bed converted to Roadway, being Penang Road and Clemenceau Avenue from Tank Road to Newton circus and Dunearn Road between Cluny and Bukit Timah. Going westwards from Newton station the track was between the  canal and Dunearn Road up to the point where the latter ended. The actual point where the deviation commenced would appear to be about a mile south of Bukit Panjang village, this point being 8 miles 52 chains from Keppel Road according to the official route mileage chart.

 On 30th April 1932 FMSR had published a notice in the Sin Kuo Min Ri Bao newspaper announcing that Tank Road, Newton, Cluny and Bukit Timah (old) Railway Stations would be closed permanently on the night of 2nd May 1932 (Monday), after the last train left Tank Road at 8:30 pm for Kuala Lumpur. The new Keppel Station was officially opened by Governor Sir Cecil Clementi at 5:15 pm on 2nd May 1932. The grand event was held at the station main hall. Before that, the Governor accompanied with the Sultan of Perak and other guests boarded a special train from Bukit Panjang via the new route to the new station. I have a very poor quality copies of the photographs at the new station, the 3 coach train appears to be hauled by one of the then brand new S class pacifics which had taken over the Singapore to Taiping expresses. The following stations: Singapore, Alexandra Halt, Tanglin and Bukit Timah were opened from 3rd May 1932 onward. On 3rd May, the daily first train from Singapore departed for Kuala Lumpur at 8:30 am. There is no mention of Holland road station being closed so it had probably been closed earlier although it was still mentioned in the distances tables in 1925. The new timetable published for 3rd May 1932 onwards does not show Mandai, Kranji or Woodlands stations so these had probably also closed by this time, at least to passenger traffic. This timetable shows only the Gemas and Kluang all-station locals, one of each each way, stopping at Bukit Panjang and Alexandra Halt. There were 3 trains each way between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and these stopped at Tanglin and Bukit Timah with the exception of the northbound Night Mail which ran non-stop from Singapore to Johor Bahru in 36 minutes.

        On 11th November 1965 a branch was opened from Bukit Timah station to the new Jurong Industrial Estate but much of the expected traffic did not materialise. In all my visits to Jurong in the 70's, working in the various shipyards, I only ever saw one train, hauled by a 201 class diesel, and the shunting loco in the cement works. There was a 3 coach passenger train hauled by 20114 at the opening and the ceremony was attended by 20104 bedecked in flags. I also have a copy of a picture depicting 563.04 shunting there shortly afterwards. The last steam locomotive left Singapore in late 1972.

        In 1961 the Singapore Harbour Board had 16 miles of tracks in its 950 acre site, which were connected to the main line west of Tanjong Pagar station. By the 1970's it had been renamed to the Port of Singapore Authority and owned a number of diesel shunters. I have some maps showing the system at various times, and hope to be able to show them later. There is some more information on my Industrial page.

        The main railway yards were located at Kranji, Bukit Timah and in the city between Keppel Road and Kampong Bahru Road. Adjacent to the latter two branches ran off the main line into the docks (see above). Other branches ran off at various places to industrial estates or military installations and the locations of these have been obtained from a number of different maps over the years. 

        The 4 mile long Changi line was built by the FMSR for the War Department to a gauge of 4' 8½" for the construction of the Singapore Defences. This line ran from Fairy Point pier, turning south-eastwards to clear the east bank of Sungei Selarang, following an alignment similar to where Aldergrove Road now is and crossed the Upper Changi Road close to the 13 milepost (21 km post now). After this it turned west of south to the 15" gun emplacements (known as Johore Battery) east of Lloyd Leas estate. The map below shows more detail and clicking on the map will take you to the site I obtained it from with a fuller history. My thanks to Margie Hall, the KTM railway fan club and the unknown author of this site for the above information. If they will contact me I can give them due credit.

 

The branch from Queenstown to Ayer Rajah Industrial estate only shows on maps from the mid 1990's and that of 1946, but not those in between, while those from Bukit Panjang and Kampong Kranji are only on the 1946 map.

 There was a supply line to the Buona Vista Battery near the corner of Ulu Pandan Road and Clementi (ex-Reformatory) Road. This left the main line opposite my house at 41 Jalan Jelita and headed in a westerly direction, keeping about a couple of hundred yards south of Ulu Pandan Road until a little way short of Reformatory Road when it turned north crossing Ulu Pandan Road and stopping at the foot of the hill just to the north. The battery had 2 15" guns, presumably on top of this hill, which were apparently destroyed by the British when the Japanese took control. My thanks to "dataxbox" for supplying this information and maps, part of which is reproduced below. Any further details of this or any other lines would be welcome, please e-mail me, address below.

Click here for an update on Military Railways.

         The map above is not strictly to scale nor accurate in either positioning or date, but merely gives an indication of the approximate location of the various lines described above. Indeed, the line from Bukit Timah to Jurong was not built until some 30 years after the line from Bukit Timah to the docks via Tank Road had disappeared. The present Woodlands station was only opened some 10 years ago, when the Customs and Immigration facilities were transferred there from the Keppel Road terminus at Tanjong Pagar. Passenger trains ceased running to and from Tanjong Pagar in 2010 and all trains start and terminate at Woodlands for Customs and Immigration formalities. Tanglin halt has also disappeared as have the majority of branches shown. All track south of Woodlands has now been lifted and the causeway link will also be removed by 2020 The Changi line is now more correctly positioned, please see text above map, which I have now redrawn. The station previously shown as Borneo Park is actually Borneo Wharf. The terminus station of the dock branch from Tank Road (opened to traffic 21st January 1907) is Pasir Panjang. I now know the approximate location of the original Bukit Timah station, close to Jalan Jurong Kechil, now buried under the PIE. The original Woodlands station was a little way north-east of the present station, at the southern end, and immediately west of the causeway. The original line turned sharply northwards at the eastern end of the platform but a few years later a new deviation was built along the line of the former road from Woodlands to Mandai bridge. Bukit Panjang station was close to Bukit Gombak, between lorongs 4 & 5. At the opening ceremony the new Singapore station at Tanjong Pagar was referred to as Keppel Station in one newspaper and the timetable showed an Alexandra Halt and a Tanglin Station. Does anyone know the precise location of Alexandra Halt.

        A number of Industrial concerns had steam locomotives, the largest being the contractors for building the Naval Base and Kallang Airport. Click here for a full list of steam locomotives known to have been sent to Singapore.

From the timetable headings it was known as “Singapore & Kranji Railway” from December 1902 to April 1903, “Singapore and Kranji Railway” from May 1903 until April 1909 and as the Singapore Government Railway from May 1909 onwards. In January 1904 The Straits Times referred to it as “The Singapore – Johore Railway”. After 1912 it was known as the FMSR Singapore section.

 W. Tearle was Manager from 1903 (initially pro. tem.) until at least 19th January 1907.

J. H. Williams was Manager and Engineer by September 27th 1907 until at least 1909 and perhaps 1910 or later.

W. J. Haskins was Acting Manager and Engineer by July 1st 1911.

 

 

 

The following links will take you to pages containing more than 650 photographs taken on the railways of West Malaysia (formerly Malaya) and Singapore between 1962 and 2003, the majority between 1975 and 1977 when my back garden overlooked the line from Bukit Timah to Tanjong Pagar and I was working in the port areas of Loyang, Jurong and Singapore.

A handful of pictures taken between 1962-1965, includes 2 steam on the causeway.

Pictures taken between 1972-1977 in Singapore and Malaysia, includes dumped and preserved steam.

From my back garden: Pictures taken in 1975 in Singapore. + Pictures taken in 1976 in Singapore.

Pictures taken in Singapore, January-March 1977, includes Bukit Timah, Tanjong Pagar and Holland Road.

Pictures taken from my garden and at Tanjong Pagar, April-June 1977.

Pictures taken from my garden, at Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar, July and August 1977.

Pictures taken between Singapore and Penang in 1985, includes the KTM Centenary celebrations.

Sentul works, Kuala Lumpur, Gemas and Singapore, includes the MRT and Jurong Bird Park monorail in 1995.

Sentul, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, includes the new EMUs for the Kuala Lumpur suburban services in 1998.

A train journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 2000, includes KL metro and Gemas stored steam loco.

A brief visit to Singapore station area on 4th February 2003, plus a surprise.

 

The Malayan Railway The 1960s Singapore Railways
1970s 1985 1995 1998 2000 2005
Singapore 1975 Singapore 1976 Singapore 1977 part 1 Singapore 1977 part 2 Singapore 1977 part 3 Singapore Trams
Singapore 2003 Singapore 2007 Singapore 2008
Malaysia 2008 Malaysia 2013 Malaysia 2016
  Johore Wooden Railway Johore State Railway
Malacca State Railway Muar State Railway North Borneo Railway
Perak State Railway Selangor State Railway Sungei Ujong Railway
Allan Stanistreet pictures Bernard Loughlin collection Uncle Howard's Album

Above left: The original Singapore station of 1902 between River Valley Road and Fort Canning. Above right: Orchard Road bridge in 1925.

A larger version of this picture, another picture of the same station from the top of Fort Canning and several pictures of the new Tank Road station appear here.

There is a detailed map of the layout around Fort Canning in 1924 here.

Below: Tanjong Pagar Road looking towards the docks from the junction with Anson Road in 1892. In the centre is a steam tram with trailer. Details of steam trams.

Above: The causeway from Johore (left) and Singapore (right).

Below left: High street / North Bridge Road junction. Below right: Anderson bridge.

Sources:

Stephenson Locomotive Society Library.

50 years of Malayan Railway, 1935.

The Locomotive magazine.

Survey Department, Federation of Malaya, map 191-54.

Singapore Guide and Street Directory, 7th edition, March 1963.

Singapore Guide and Street Directory, 11th edition, 1975.

Singapore Street Directory, 2002/2003 edition.

Singapore Then and Now by Ray Tyers.

Central Intelligence Agency map published on the internet.

Malayan Railway 100 years, 1885-1985.

Malayan Railway 1885-1985 Locomotive Centennial by Haji Shamsuddin.

The Malayan Railway by J. A. Stanistreet.

Various tourist maps and internet sites.

A military Historian at the National University, via Leon Dark.

National Heritage Board, National Archives of Singapore.

Brian Raybould, military railway engineer.

Margie Hall.

The KTM Railway Fan Club (website).

Nadia Wright.

"dataxbox"

Peter Chan

The 2Bangkok.com Railway History forum (website).

Penang Trams, Trolleybuses & Railways by Ric Francis & Colin Ganley

Singapore Trams, Trolleybuses & Buses by F W York & A R Phillips

Others who wish to remain anonymous.

 

The Malayan Railway The 1960s Singapore Railways
1970s 1985 1995 1998 2000 2005
Singapore 1975 Singapore 1976 Singapore 1977 part 1 Singapore 1977 part 2 Singapore 1977 part 3 Singapore Trams
Singapore 2003 Singapore 2007 Singapore 2008
Malaysia 2008 Malaysia 2013 Malaysia 2016
  Johore Wooden Railway Johore State Railway
Malacca State Railway Muar State Railway North Borneo Railway
Perak State Railway Selangor State Railway Sungei Ujong Railway
Allan Stanistreet pictures Bernard Loughlin collection Uncle Howard's Album

 

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Last updated 12th October 2017.

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