The former Bukit Timah Railway Station at Rail Corridor has re-opened to the public!
Located around the midway point of the 24km-long Rail Corridor and well-loved for its idyllic natural setting and iconic railway heritage landmarks, the new 4.3-hectare node comprises two sensitively-restored conserved buildings – the Railway Station and Railway Staff Quarters.
In addition, the surrounding compound has been refreshed with new amenities, gardens and lawns… including a beautiful CAFE!
Here’s what to expect from the NEW Bukit Timah Railway Station community node:
BUKIT TIMAH RAILWAY STATION
The only suburban station which still stands in Singapore today, Bukit Timah Railway Station was constructed in 1932 to serve as one of five railway stations along the Singapore-Kranji Railway, the first railway in Singapore. It also served as a freight interchange for the now defunct Jurong Line from 1966 to the early 1990s. The station ceased operations when KTM ended train services between Woodlands and Tanjong Pagar in 2011, and was gazetted as a conserved building in the same year.
Interestingly, the tation was constructed in the style of traditional small town railway stations found in the UK and is reminiscent of European country cottages.
The re-opened Bukit Timah Railway Station building retains its original features. The building, along with its key architectural and railway elements, has been carefully restored and repurposed as a heritage gallery for visitors to learn about its history and that of the Rail Corridor.
Visitors can view actual past maps that adorned the walls of the railway station, as well as get a glimpse of the former Ticketing Window.
In addition, visitors will see restored elements like track switching levers and a replica of a signals diagram in the Signal Room, which former Station Masters used to control rail traffic.
The Signal Room used to have 36 mechanical levers controlling different functions, differentiated by colour:
- Black – Track switching
- Blue – Locking of switching mechanism
- Red – Semaphore arms to signal trains
- Yellow – Distant signals to alert train drivers
- White – Spare levers
Kids will love climbing onto the two service wagons, which are new addtions on the railway tracks.
The service wagons have been replicated to look just like old railway maintenance vehicles, are placed on the existing railway tracks as play features reminiscent of the former railway station.
There are also other nuggets of information that could be found aroud the railway station, like these token exchange pole.
Across the train tracks from the Railway Station building is the conserved Railway Staff Quarters, a former staff housing block which has been repurposed into a café with a rustic, relaxed ambience.
Like the Railway Station building, key architectural elements have been restored and ramps have also been added to make the buildings more accessible, as houses in the past were typically raised a foot above ground to prevent flooding during heavy rain.
Of course, the main draw at the Staff Quarters has got to be the 1932 Story cafe.
If you are visiting the Railway Station, I strongly recommend popping inside the cafe to take a look.
The east unit (“Heritage wing”) has been retained with all rooms intact, showcasing architectural features such as rounded plastered walls, heel stones, and Bakelite plastic switches.
I really love what the owner had done with the interior – it retains the vintage charm of the building without overdoing it.
I was there on the first day of its opening so no food was being sold yet. But I understand that local faves like mee siam, etc will make their way to the menu soon.
While there, do pay a visit to the last room of the building, which is also part of the cafe and has a seating area.
But more than just offering seating space, the room is actually a railway-themed gallery and houses a collection of items that were from the period when Bukit Timah Railway Station was still in operation.
Situated behind the Railway Staff Quarters, the Herb and Spice Garden features commonly used edible plants used for cooking such as the Curry Leaf, Common Basil, Laksa Leaf, and Siamese Ginger.
And keep your eyes peeled for this information panel, which sheds light on how the old sewage treatment system worked for the Staff Quarters back then,
Fronting the Railway Staff Quarters, the Kampung Garden features ornamental shrubs and flowers iconic to Singapore’s 1960s landscape.
The Yard is a new, single-storey pavilion with a sheltered gathering space and public restrooms, featuring rustic, textured walls and a green roof which has creeping plants and solar panels for electricity generation.
The front section, where the sheltered gathering area is, holds a map of this community node and an educational panel on the railway story.
LOOKOUT RAMP AND SEATING TERRACE
The ramp and outdoor terrace allow visitors to rest, along with a view of the Railway Station building. Two tiers of outdoor seating are inlaid with actual railway track segments that serve as armrests.
A footpath brings visitors to an elevated lookout for a view of the surroundings.
When entering the community node from King Albert Park MRT station, there is a new paved path which direct visitors direct into the heart of the compound.
The paths’ design mimics long-exposure photography of a passing train and its light trails, evoking the still motion of passing trains in the old days.
Visitors will also be happy to know that there is new flight of steps constructed which allows them to ascend to the Truss Bridge without having to walk a further distance.
GETTING TO BUKIT TIMAH RAILWAY STATION
Bukit Timah Railway Station lies around at the half-way mark along the Rail Corridor.
If you are starting from Rail Mall or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, head in the direction of Tanjong Pagar. If you are starting from Alexandra, Buona Vista or Holland area, head in the direction of Woodlands.
See the map below for directions:
If you are driving, the nearest carparks are at KAP Mall and [email protected] As for public transport, King Albert Park MRT station is located near the entry point of Bukit Timah Railway Station.