Tag Archives: KTM

Tanjung Pagar – Final Irony Derailed

On 01 July 2011 train operations ceased at this iconic station of British colonial legacy (opened in 1932).

It also marked the end of acrimonious bickering between Singapore and Malaysia on the relocation of the Malaysian CIQ, as well as the “one-upmanship” contest between LKY and Dr M.   In the preceding 5 years or so, a train traveller from Singapore to Malaysia had to “enter” Malaysia first before leaving Singapore 30 minutes’ journey later — a ironical (some say comical) drama of the immigration saga. 

Personally, this place reminds me of the day that my wife and I officially emigrated to Singapore in June 1984.  With 2 suitcases and 2 carton boxes in tow, we disembarked from the Express Rakyat after a gruelling 14-hour ride from Butterworth, tired but looking expectantly to greener pastures on The Little Red Dot (that’s an irony in itself).

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Before the mid-1960s, the KTM trains were hauled by steam locomotives — huge metallic beasts puffing thick plumes of black smoke from their stacks, and hissing steam from both sides.  The coaches came in three classes, with 3rd Class ones nearest the loco, and 1st Class ones farthest away.

Back then, there was no aircon – hence windows would be down.  We, the poor folks always went for 3rd Class of course.  At the end of a trip from Prai (at that time, the tracks had not been extended to Butterworth yet) to Kuala Lumpur,  our faces would look like as though we had a tour of an  underground coal mine.  A dig with a handkerchief – those days, no one heard of tissues – into the nostrils produced some mighty good carbon black.   Also needed some Eye-Mo drops to clear soot from the eyes.

But it was really fun.  Tooot ! Tooot !