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Former Tanjong Pagar rail station in Singapore waits for a new destiny

It has been a year that the historical Tanjong Pagar Rail Station in Singapore welcomed its last train. The grand structure is now waiting for a new use of its premises…

SINGAPORE- It has been for many decades a subject of conflict between Malaysia and Singapore. In Singapore city centre, near the historical area of Tanjong Pagar, stands Singapore main rail station. For many years, Singaporeans hope to take back the building and its land to redevelop it. Except that the rail station was the property of the Malaysian Railways. The rail administration refused of course to cede the old building.

Finally both Malaysia and Singapore agreed to transfer train services to the Woodland Train Checkpoint station which is an integral part of Singapore’s CIS facilities at the border to Malaysia. Tanjong Pagar station saw its last trains leaving for Malaysia on July 1st, 2011. At the same time, the State Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) declared Tanjong Pagar Rail Station a national monument, opening the way to a new use for the building.

Completed in the early 1930s, the beautiful mix of Art Deco and classical styles makes the station a jewel of rail architecture in Southeast Asia. It has just been a year that the station has ceased its activities. Tanjong Pagar Rail station belongs now to Singapore as well as the 23-km rail corridor which used to link Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands. Paying tribute to the exceptional quality of the building, Singapore Government is however still looking to find an appropriate use for the building.

Last April, the historic station was bathed in shades of colours as fashion house Valentino presented a catwalk inside the old structure. But so far, despite rumours of turning the building into Singapore Railway Museum, no official decision has been taken by the Government. They are also plans to set up community activities along the 23 km of the former rail corridor. Following some maintenance work earlier this year, it is now possible to use the station premises for private events.

But one thing is already confirmed. The Singapore Land Authority, which owns Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, already confirmed to preserve and restore the façade. Of course, converting the station into a rail museum would be the best way to bring back a glimpse of the previous station’s activity.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.

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