The Last Train – Part 2

This post is a follow-up from Part 1 of the 5 part series “The Last Train” documenting the end of the KTM railway in Singapore.

Passengers disembarking at Tanjong Pagar KTM railway station

Passengers disembarking at the Tanjong Pagar KTM railway station

Many a times, when I am in the zone and taking photo of people, I am acutely aware that every fleeting expression will result in a photo of a different moment, and I take several shots of the same scene so that when I get back into the (now digital) darkroom I can look through the pictures and select THE one representative photo.

Man buying ticket at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station

Man buying ticket at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station

However documenting the closure of the KTM railway station in Tanjong Pagar, I was even more keenly aware, that every photo I take will never again be repeated, not even re-staged, for the closure of the station meant that everything will, and did indeed change.

Main hall of the Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station. The station is now closed permanently.

Main hall of the Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station. The station is now closed permanently.

The hawkers selling food will no longer be reporting to the same stall everyday; the station masters will no longer be working at the same post, in the same office; the workers and people of the KTM Tanjong Pagar station will never again step into the building in the same meaningful manner of going about their daily business.

Bookstore at the KTM Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Bookstore at the KTM Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. This store was still opened when I visited it on the 26th June 2011.

Dismantling of the bookstore at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station

On the 27th June, one day after I photographed the bookstore, it was dismantled and became part of the collective history of the now defunct railway station.

Instead, with the building being preserved as a national monument, there will only be memories to step into, nostalgia to wallow in when one re-enters the building. Our photos (and videos, too) record the last days of this once vibrant station, the daily flurry of activities and the sights and smells of the place distilled onto ink and paper.

Nostalgic Milk Cans

Nostalgic Milk Cans at the coffee shop at the Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway station

There were many people rushing to the station to savour the last few days, eating at the station’s famous stalls and usual haunts. There were not many days left to do so.

Good old Teh-Tarik made the traditional way

Good old Teh-Tarik made the traditional way at the railway station coffee shop. Many queued up for it to drink it one more time before the stall closes.

Making chapati at Tanjong Pagar KTM Station

Making chapati at Tanjong Pagar KTM Station. The stall garnered a long queue in its last days as many rushed to savor it one more time.

Family enjoying dinner at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station

Family enjoying dinner at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station

Photographs preserve not only the visual, but also the emotions that went along with those visual vignettes of a life once past. They are the key to unlocking our memories, to unleashing those latent feelings. I feel very privileged and fortunate to be one of the many people trying to retain our sense of place in Singapore’s history.

Ramly Burger - a big draw at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway station

The Ramly Burger stall was a big draw at Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway station. Customers often packed them for their long train journey ahead.

Some of the stalls may relocate to other places in Singapore but for many, it will be an emotional return to Johor Bahru, Malaysia where most of them hail from.

Owner of the drinks stall sat forlornly at the coffeeshop

The owner of the drinks stall sat forlornly at the coffeeshop, which closed finally on the 30th June 2011.

Man reminiscing at coffee shop

A man sat alone in front of the railway station coffee shop, perhaps reminiscing the old days before the station closes.

Waiting for closing time

The family members of the coffee shop waiting for closing time. The station, and the coffee shop, closed finally for the last time on the 30th June 2011.

A lady clearing up the counter after the stall closing time.

A lady clearing up the counter after the stall closing time. The station, and the coffee shop, closed finally for the last time on the 30th June 2011.

And after 79 years, the KTM Tanjong Pagar station has become part of our history.

A Train coming into Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway station

A Train coming into Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway station. The tracks, and the station, finally became history on the 30th June 2011.

Look out for Part 3 of the series ‘The Last Train”, where I will be featuring the tireless KTM workers, the people who made the whole system tick. Hope you have been enjoying the series so far!

Edit: Part 3 of this series is now live!

6 comments for “The Last Train – Part 2

  1. July 7, 2011 at 11:36

    Hey I love your posts! By the way I think you’ve made a mistake in the dates. For the bookstore picture, the date should be June, not July.

    • July 7, 2011 at 13:17

      Thanks Louis! Yes u’re right! I have made the necessary corrections. Thanks for pointing them out! 🙂

  2. April 15, 2015 at 23:46

    Mr. Elliott,Letters via USPS sounds so novel in the internet age regardless of whether it is one particular letter produced for many, nevertheless it doesn’t sound like a pen-pal relationship. Can 1 write again to the author of the letter?

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