Last Thursday, 30 June 2011, was the last day of operations of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. I found some information on the Facebook group The Last Train Into Tanjong Pagar about plans for a party aboard the last train pulling into that station, departing from Segamat in Malaysia. I somehow managed to grab the second to last ticket available, which meant I would have to take a train out of Singapore, then back.

My train out of Singapore was scheduled for 8am, so I got up bright and early so I could make it to the station and have some time to walk the grounds of the station and take a few more photos. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative, and shortly after I arrived after 7am, it started pouring. Instead, I walked around inside the station and took photos.

It was strange to see a lot of the things that were there just four days prior suddenly missing. Perhaps the most noticeable was the disappearance of the book shop and money changer stalls that were just outside the Arrivals platform. It was kind of sad seeing that the entire stall, including the walls and signs, was now completely gone. It truly was the end.

Before and After

This being a historic moment, assorted souvenirs were being sold on site. I purchased a pair of shirts, one of which I would wear on the last train into Tanjong Pagar.

Apart from passengers on the train, as well as friends and family seeing us off, assorted press people were present at the railway station. This was newsworthy, so assorted camera crews were shooting footage of this day. I spotted Channel News Asia by the Departure gate (I walked by right as they were filming), and later I saw crew from NHK News (Japan).

The train was running late, so instead of departing at 8am, the gates opened only at that time. In an interesting twist, Malaysian immigration and customs were at the platform, so I ended up entering Malaysia even before departing Singapore. Also, our passports weren’t stamped; only our immigration cards were stamped. It’s kinda sad, as I would have loved to have a stamp from this day on my passport. Once we cleared immigration, KTM staff handed out certificates to the boarding passengers. (It’s in Bahasa Malayu, but I assume it means something to the effect of being recognized as a passenger on the last day of service of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.)

All I got as proof I entered Malaysia was the stamp on the immigration card, which was then collected. They did sign on my passport on the way back to Singapore.

At around 8.40am, 40 minutes after our scheduled departure, the train pulled out of the railway station. The weather still hadn’t cleared up, and I was seated in an air-conditioned coach (which meant windows couldn’t be opened), so any attempt to snap photos or shoot video was a failure. It was interesting to pass through a lot of greenery (something called the Green Corridor). It was a unique view of Singapore. My personal favorite moment was when we passed Bukit Timah Railway Station. A lot of people had gathered to witness history (and snap photos, naturally) by the railroad tracks, and they waved at us as our train passed by.

Soon after, we arrived at Woodlands Train Checkpoint, where we disembarked in order to clear immigration and customs, and officially leave Singapore (even if, for all intents and purposes, we were already in Malaysia). Eager folks (myself included) started snapping photos of the train and the facility as they disembarked, momentarily forgetting that photography and video at immigration controls were not allowed. Oops.

Woodlands Checkpoint, where photography is not allowed

After everyone had cleared immigration and customs, everyone boarded the train again. In the pouring rain, the train crossed the causeway and entered Johor Bahru. JB Sentral Station was our first official stop in Malaysia.

The weather steadily improved as we went on our journey through Malaysia. Outside, small towns in Johor alternated with vistas of lush vegetation. It was quite interesting, though difficult to snap photos of (videos were no better). On our scheduled arrival time at Segamat, the train was just pulling into Kluang. We then passed Paloh and Labis. A little more than an hour after our scheduled arrival time, we made it to Segamat.

Segamat

We had roughly 5 hours in Segamat, so I explored a bit of the town. To be honest, there wasn’t much to see. Some old buildings and shophouses (standard for the region) as well as some older vehicles gave the town the feel of a time capsule, as if it were stuck somewhere in the early 1990s. After a late lunch (delicious, by the way) and about an hour and a half of exploring, I headed back to the station to wait for the train back to Singapore, also known as the last train that would be pulling into Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

The train was surprisingly on-time, and even more surprisingly, it was quite fast. Unfortunately for us, the air-conditioning wasn’t working on the coach that we were on. We sped past the various stations along the way. For the most part, it was an uneventful trip, until we reached Kluang. Those who took the later train to Segamat were advised to get off at Kluang if they wanted to be on the last train to Tanjong Pagar, otherwise they would miss it. This second wave of party-goers included someone I met on CouchSurfing, as well as more media people. Once we left Kluang, the party truly began. My friend produced an air horn, some poppers, and assorted other noisemakers, while a press photographer urged us to be more active. That set us off, and soon there was noise and poppers.

posing with my friend's air horn

attempts at a party on the last train into Tanjong Pagar

The atmosphere definitely became more upbeat. We swiftly passed Johor Bahru, crossed the Causeway, and cleared Singapore immigration at Woodlands Checkpoint. Then we arrived at Bukit Timah station, where there were lots of people waiting to celebrate as well. Lots of well-wishers and a few media people were there. The train was stopped for quite some time (apparently we were waiting for a train to depart from Tanjong Pagar before we could continue), so this was a great time to snap some photos, stretch out a bit, and play it up for the cameras. Then, we moved, and made our way to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station!

people and press at Bukit Timah Station

The stretch from Bukit Timah to Tanjong Pagar was probably the most festive leg of the journey. My friend kept honking his air horn as the train sped past HDB blocks, roads, and what have you. There were parts where people had gathered just to see the last trains pass by, cheering the train on. It was fun, and it was then that I truly felt like part of something special. Then, we finally arrived at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the shouts and cheers of the people waiting for the train at the platform. It was an awesome feeling.

my friend blowing his air horn as the train passes through Singapore

well-wishers at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

The Arrivals platform was crowded with people and media, everyone trying to get a view and a photo of the last train the pulled up into Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. Lots of people were posing in front of the train. I caught a glimpse of Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar who was going to drive the last train out of Tanjong Pagar. Mr. Sulhan Sauti, who drove the last train into Tanjong Pagar, was also an instant celebrity as people were snapping photos of him posing inside the train.

Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Mr. Sulhan Sauti

It was a fantastic vibe and the perfect send-off to a historic location.

Goodbye, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station!

You can view the rest of my photos on Flickr.