Being a passionate topography buff myself, I knew where and how I should dig for information but unfortunately much of the information didn’t even exist in our National Archives. Through good contacts, I reviewed various Singapore maps of different eras, interviewed people who worked for the British Military – there was a time when there was a military railway system in Singapore between 1948 and 1960, and of course my old friendly neighbor “Uncle Teo” (aged 88 years) who happened to take the train from the Bukit Timah Station to Saint Joseph Institution in Bras Basah Road (circa 1931). Putting the pieces together, I finally was able to assemble together the jig-saw on what was the first railway service in Singapore called the “Singapore-Kranji Railway”. The “Singapore-Kranji Railway” or SKR in short was later absorbed by the Federated Malay States Railway (FMSR) to become Malayan Railway and now called Keretapi Tanah Malaysia (KTM).
SKR on future Dunearn Road; passing Whitley Road. At the top is Stevens Road
Though most people or historians would have spoken about the route between Tanjung Pagar to Tank Road and Orchard Road to Newton, there was certainly a lack of information between Newton and Woodlands. In the past one year, my friend Bobby Teoh and I spent our spare time working the ground with cadastral maps, different surveying techniques and cameras to gather more evidences of what we believed was the original route. Bobby Teoh himself spent several weeks in Kuala Lumpur reviewing through old KTM files and photos abandoned at a railway yard in Klang. Our survey, analysis and conclusions show that the original routing included the following landmarks:
- Newton Station was somewhere between Gilstead Road and Newton Road. The site is in front of the former Singapore Family Planning Board. This building still exists but for different use
- Cluny Station was at the Adam Road Food Center
- Holland Station was at the former public carpark where the Singapore Turf Club once stood. This public carpark is at the corner of Swiss Club Road and Dunearn Road
- Bukit Timah Station stood on the SHELL Station next to Pei Hwa Avenue
- Bukit Panjang Station is at the foot of Bukit Gombak and the Level Crossing at Choa Chu Kang Road. There is a KTM hut just behind the Bukit Panjang public carpark and the small canal next to Galistan Avenue
- Kranji Station next to Jalan Surau or the Kranji Water Reclamation Plant
- Woodlands Station at Admiralty Road West jetty (or the old Malaysian Naval Base area)
SKR Time-table for train service (circa 1905)
Newton Station dated 1920 - facing Bukit Timah Canal - right side will be future Newton Circus
Dunearn Road was actually the site of the old railway track. In some places, SKR ran on Dunearn Road whilst in other places it ran on what was formerly the narrow strip of land between Dunearn Road and the Bukit Timah Canal; e.g. between Chancery Lane and the Adams Road were nurseries and restaurants. In the early 1950s, the Public Works Department of the Colonial Government of Singapore decided to convert the former SKR land for a new dual road-carriageway – that was Dunearn Road from Rifle Range Road to Newton Circus. Whilst there were might be debate about “proposed railway line” and “actual line” between Bukit Timah Station and Bukit Panjang Station, we are certain that we have found the right places. Cheong Chin Nam Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road nearest to the Old Ford Motor factory was the original routing. I recommend readers to look-up this Internet site for additional information.