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Singapore

Restored Bukit Timah Railway Station opens to the public, providing new community space

The Railway Station is part of a new 4.3-hectare space for the community, located around the midway point of the 24km-long Rail Corridor.

02:55 Min
The historic Bukit Timah Railway Station has been reopened after being restored, along with the original platform and tracks, 11 years after the railway land was returned to Singapore. Melissa Goh reports.

SINGAPORE: The historic Bukit Timah Railway Station has been reopened after being restored, along with the original platform and tracks, 11 years after the railway land was returned to Singapore.

The Railway Station is part of a new 4.3-hectare space for the community, located around the midway point of the 24km-long Rail Corridor, that was officially opened on Friday (Jul 1).

Described as a community node by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the National Parks Board (NParks), the space comprises the “sensitively restored” Railway Station and Railway Staff Quarters, as well as newly added amenities, gardens and lawns in the surrounding compound.

“Exactly 11 years ago today, the former railway land where we now stand was returned to Singapore, giving us an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine how to best make use of this uninterrupted 24km-long stretch of land, all the way from Woodlands in the north to Tanjong Pagar in the south,” said Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, Desmond Lee, at the launch of the community node.

“Since then, we’ve been working extensively over the many years with Singaporeans from all walks of life, to carefully plan and enhance the Rail Corridor, into a place that everybody can enjoy.”

A recurrent theme that arose from the engagement sessions with different stakeholder groups and the wider community was “for the Rail Corridor’s built and natural heritage to be retained and enhanced”, the agencies said in a joint press release.

“SENSITIVELY RESTORED” HERITAGE LANDMARKS

Built in 1932 and one of two existing railway stations in Singapore, the conserved Bukit Timah Railway Station building retains its original features. 

The building, along with its key architectural and railway elements, has been repurposed as a heritage gallery for visitors to learn about its history and that of the Rail Corridor, said URA and NParks. 

These restored elements in the building include track switching levers, a ticketing booth and even a replica of a signals diagram in the signal room, where former station masters used to control rail traffic. 

And in front of the building, visitors will find station signs, token poles, and replicas of railway station wagons that once plied the tracks. 

The railway staff quarters, which will include a cafe set to open in early July. (Photo: Urban Redevelopment Authority)

Meanwhile, the conserved Railway Staff Quarters, a former staff housing block, has been repurposed into a café with “a rustic, relaxed ambience”, which is set to open to public from early July, added URA and NParks.

URA has restored key architectural elements of the building, while adding ramps to “make the buildings more accessible, as houses in the past were typically raised a foot above ground to prevent flooding during heavy rain”, the agencies highlighted.

A seating terrace and ramp located in the Bukit Timah Railway Station’s compounds. (Photo: Urban Redevelopment Authority)

MORE INCLUSIVE DESIGN

The engagement sessions also found that the public wanted the Rail Corridor to be a “more accessible space for visitors of all ages and abilities”, noted URA and NParks.

Hence, to make the site more inclusive for different users, old access roads and paths were rebuilt for safety and “barrier-free accessibility”.

Visitors using wheelchairs and prams will be able to visit various parts of the compound, such as the conserved buildings and new gardens, via “seamlessly integrated access ramps”.

A new sheltered yard will serve as a rest area and gathering point, with public restrooms that “simulate rustic toilets found in the old days”, while “offering modern accessibility features for those with special needs”, the agencies added.                                                            

The restored compound also employs the use of sensitive lighting design to “allow visitors to enjoy and appreciate the community node safely in the evenings, while maintaining suitable conditions for nocturnal animals”.

While the two conserved buildings and only essential foot paths and benches are lit, the main Rail Corridor trail is kept unlit throughout.

NEW GARDENS, COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS 

The Bukit Timah Railway Station community node will also comprise two new gardens - Kampung Garden, and Herb and Spice Garden - as well as a community lawn and event lawn.

In commemoration of its opening, NParks has partnered with Singapore Post (SingPost) to launch a stamp issue to showcase the Rail Corridor today.

The series of five illustrated stamps features some iconic landmarks associated with the former rail operations along the corridor, such as the Bukit Timah Railway Station and Bukit Timah truss bridge, as well as flora and fauna along the Rail Corridor, said URA and NParks.

The stamps can be purchased at all post offices, philatelic stores and online at shop.singpost.com.

NParks has partnered with Singapore Post (SingPost) to launch a stamp issue to showcase the Rail Corridor. (Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh)

ENHANCEMENTS TO THE RAIL CORRIDOR

At the opening of the community node, Mr Lee also announced the enhanced trail between Hillview and Kranji will be open by the end of 2022. And by 2023, there will be new access paths, shelters and restrooms along this trail. 

By mid-2023, there will be a new pedestrian bridge across Hillview Road for a “seamless connection” between Rail Mall and Hillview Road. This section of the Rail Corridor will includes “access paths” and an observation deck with a view of Bukit Timah Hill, added Mr Lee. 

Two new access points will also be introduced. 

“The first is the 9 Mile Platform, located between Rail Mall and the Upper Bukit Timah truss bridge, which will be completed by the end of this year,” said Mr Lee. 

“The second is the Buona Vista community node at one-north business park, which will be completed by end-2023. It will be integrated with an upcoming mixed-use biomedical sciences development in that area.”

As part of NParks’ Youth Stewards for Nature programme, participants conducted biodiversity surveys on the Rail Corridor to monitor species diversity earlier this year, said URA and NParks in its press release. 

The results of their surveys will be incorporated into “educational signs” along the Rail Corridor. 

And as the Rail Corridor is an “identity corridor” identified in URA’s long-term plan review, agencies will “continue to protect and enhance the Rail Corridor’s unique character”, and “sensitively integrate the space with adjacent developments and communities for current and future generations to enjoy”. 

Source: CNA/ec

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