Not only are they a dying form of transportation, trains and railway stations are also time machines, taking passengers back to a simpler, slower time. As I set foot inside Tanjong Pagar Rail Station a few days ago, I forgot about the glass and steel buildings in the CBD, the crowded malls and congested streets of Singapore. Train service out of this station will end on July 1, 2011, so I decided to take a train ride to Johor Bahru before it would be too late.
After July 1, the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) will no longer run trains out of Tanjong Pagar Rail Station to Malaysia. Passengers seeking to ride the rails from Singapore to Johor Bahru and beyond will have to begin their journey at Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP). Tanjong Pagar Rail Station, as well as Bukit Timah Rail Station, have been gazetted and will be conserved. The land where the train tracks now lay seems to be fair game and will probably be developed at warp speed, as land is scarce on this little island.
The train cars show their age.
All trains leaving Tanjong Pagar Rail Station must stop at WTCP so passengers can clear immigration and customs.
Crossing the causeway by train.
Waiting at the JB station to board the train back to Tanjong Pagar.
This is no Orient Express. The trains are old and a bit grimy, but comfortable. The faint aroma of years of cigarette smoke lingers in the cars.
Everyone stops to catch a glimpse, before there is nothing left to see.
If you want to come experience Tanjong Pagar Rail Station without riding a train, come have a meal from one of the many food vendors on the platform.
If you're in Singapore and are able to take a train ride from Tanjong Pagar Rail Station, I encourage you to do so. The tickets are only a couple bucks and can be purchased within 24 hours of departure time from the ticket counter at the station. Return tickets from JB can only be purchased on the Malaysian side of the border; just look for the ticket counter at the JB station and pay a few ringgit.
The trip itself takes less than an hour, but you get to see a side of Singapore that is quickly fading. The train goes through the jungle that once covered all of Singapore, passes by squatters living in KTMB buildings, and takes you through the back of neighborhoods. Making this journey is a great way to see a different side of Singapore.
Don't forget your passport and grab a window seat to enjoy the view. It will be gone very soon.