21 July 2009

Bukit Timah Railway Station

The Bukit Timah Railway Station was opened in 1915 as part of the Singapore-Kranji Railway, also known as the Singapore Government Railway. Constructed between 1900 and 1902, the line ran from the terminal at Tank Road towards Woodlands via Cuppage Road, Newton Circus, Cluny Road and finally to Bukit Timah, before proceeding to Kranji and Woodlands where it continued to Malaysia via the former Federated Malay States Railway. Before the causeway was opened in 1923, passengers had to take a ferry across the Straits of Johor to continue their train ride. In 1918, the government of the Federated Malay States purchased all the properties and lands of Singapore Railway for $4,136,000 and was renamed as the Federated Malay States Railway.

In 1932, the new Tanjong Pagar terminal station was completed and the original line from Tank Road to Bukit Timah was dismantled around seven years later due to dwindling passenger flow. Due to changes in immigration policies in 1993 when the immigration checkpoint at Tanjong Pagar was moved to Woodlands, the Bukit Timah station is now only used for crossings and there are no longer boarding of passengers or collection of cargo at this station. However, there is an interesting daily routine here where the exchanges of key tokens take place. The exchange of tokens serves as proof of authority for the train to proceed further from Bukit Timah.

A worker on the train would throw the key packed in a bag to a staff on the platform. The station master would then return a new key token in a bag to another worker on the train. These tokens would later be sent to the relevant authorities for immigration purposes. The presence of the station today is often indicated by the classic cast iron bridge spanning above Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road.

In the early 1900s, one of the Swiss Club members successfully requested for a stop along the railway 50 yards, or about 46 metres, from the Swiss Club Road. The stop came to be known as Holland Road Halt and existed for 30 years. In 1932, the rails were relaid to the present route that now runs from Tanjong Pagar via Holland Village to Bukit Timah Village. Up till about the First World War, members of the Swiss Club would take the railway to Holland Road Halt and then hop on the bullock carts to travel to the Bukit Tinggi clubhouse. After the war, cars became available and the Halt became neglected and finally had to give way to the new Dunearn Road built on the old rail track.

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