Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Designed by H.C. Atkin Berry, Denis Santry and D.S. Petrovich of Swan & MacLaren
Constructed: 1929 to 1931
Status: Found
Preserved: Since 2011

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Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was opened in 1932, and has served commuters for almost 80 years before it ceased operations in 2011. It was opened together with the West Coast railway extension that connected Bukit Timah to Tanjong Pagar. It was conceived as the “gateway” to a series of continuous rail network that would run all the way to Europe. Hence, its design deviated starkly from the other railway stations.

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Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Tanjong Pagar means “cape of stakes” in Malay, and may be referring to the kelongs (offshore structures constructed with wooden stakes) found along the coast. Tanjong means “cape” and Pagar means “fence” in Malay. Tanjong Pagar was originally known as Salinter. The railway station is located within the Tanjong Pagar district.

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Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

The Art Deco station was inspired by the Helsinki Railway Station. The span and height of the central vault was a display of the most advanced technological feats at that time, giving the station a much grander scale than other stations. The 21.6m high vault also provides sufficient vertical space for convection currents in the main waiting hall, cooling the interior down amidst the hot weather. Natural sunlight is also allowed into the hall.

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Large murals depicting life in Singapore and Malaya

The high vault provides an opportunity for large murals to be hung on the walls. The art pieces, depicting scenes of everyday life in Singapore and Malaya in the early colonial era, have been on display since the early days of the station’s operation.

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Marble Statues on the façade, with the letters F, M, S, R above them

The entrance façade is decorated with 4 marble statues by Italian sculptor and architect Rudolfo Nolli, who also did the marble decorations for the Old Supreme Court. The 4 statues represent Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport – the 4 sources of wealth for Singapore and Malaya. Above the statues are 4 letters, “F M S R”, which stands for “Federated Malay States Railways”.

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Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Throughout its years of service, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was known by a few other names, such as “Keppel Road Railway Station” (named after the adjacent road) and “Singapore Railway Station” (replacing the Tank Road Station as the main terminus in Singapore).

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Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
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A display by the tourism board of Malaysia

The railway service in Singapore was a matter of dispute between Singapore and Malaysia, which resulted in a peculiar immigration process for commuters prior to its closure in 2011. Commuters leaving Singapore would be granted entry into Malaysia at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, before clearing Singapore Immigration at Woodlands. Not only did it led to the awkward situation of being in both countries at the same time while travelling from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands, the act of not stamping passports also resulted in clearance problems in a number of incidents. After the relocation to Woodlands, the standard clearance procedure has been adopted.

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Ticket counter
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Train schedule
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Checkpoint

The station housed a number of eateries and money exchange services, most of which were family businesses. Hawkers used to occupy the spaces in front of the station. There used to be a hotel on the second floor of the station, providing a resting place for commuters.

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Eateries at the railway station, before and after the station closed

The station was gazetted a national monument in 2011, and will probably be refurbished as a museum. Meanwhile, it has played host to a number of small events and exhibitions. It is also opened to public every public holiday.

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The railway station is opened to public every public holiday

File Last Updated: July 18, 2015

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