SINGAPORE - Former locomotive technician Abdul Raffik Khan has fond memories of working at the former Tanjong Pagar Railway station for Malayan Railways (KTM).
The 72 year-old spent four decades there from the age of 18. On Friday, he returned to his old workplace on Keppel Road after his family organised a surprise visit as the former railway station opened its doors for free entry from 9am to 6pm.
An emotional Mr Khan recalled to the The Straits Times: "I was paid a four figure salary and I was given a three-bedroom quarters for my family. KTM gave free hospitalisation and medical benefits for my family and myself."
His five children - four sons and a daughter - also have fond memories of growing up around the tracks. Mr Khan's middle son Mohamad Nazir Khan, 44, said he would chase after trains departing from the railway station.
Around 500 people visited the former station which closed in 2011 after 79 years in operation. Built between 1929 and 1931, it was gazetted as a national monument in 2013.
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) last week said that the building will open on public holidays. Visitors took photographs and shared memories.
Housewife Yong Li Foong, 46, who took along her son and daughter aged 10 and 5 said: "I used to take the train from here to Malaysia so I want my children to visit the place. At least they have a chance to walk the track."
Tourist Sam Grandell, 49 said: "It's beautiful to see. It'll be exciting to see what will be done to the building in future. It looks a bit like our railway station in Helsinki in Finland."
Engineer W.K. Chow, 59, said future open house should include activities such as a photo exhibition "so that people can learn something" about the building's history.
Since it closed, the former station has been a venue for private events, including carnivals, pop-up restaurants, high-end fashion shows and product launches.
The SLA tried to open up the place to house food stalls serving local fare in August last year, but there was a lack of interest. A spokesman said: "We hope that more people will use the opportunity to visit the historical monument for strolls, take photos or to partake in its history."