Trace Singapore's rail history on bus, foot

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 31, 2013

Behind the quiet facade of the now-defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station lies a little-known dream that was never realised: The British once had a vision to extend the Malayan railway network from Singapore all the way to France.

This is one piece of esoteric trivia that can be picked up on a new educational trail launched yesterday. Called "Rail Corridor: Our Journey Together Through the Power of Friendship", it is the last in a series of five Resilience Trails focusing on Singapore's historic moments and achievements.

Conceived by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Singapore History Consultants, the trail traces landmarks along the old rail corridor that runs through Singapore to Johor, emphasising the importance of friendship and self-reliance.

For example, at Woodlands Waterfront, where the trail starts, participants can see Singapore and Malaysia's mutual dependency tangibly manifested in the water pipes, the railway and the Causeway.

Participants also travel along Woodlands Road and Bukit Timah Road, which was the route that the Japanese used to advance on the Allied forces during World War II. The trail also includes a section between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Mayfair Park estate, where participants can glimpse remnants of the communal kampung lifestyle.

In all, the 30km journey on bus and foot takes four to five hours to complete, and ends at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in the south.

Some 360 students from 22 schools were the first to experience the trail yesterday, which was launched by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. "It is through trails like this that we are able to learn about Singapore's history, culture and heritage in a more meaningful and engaging way," Mr Wong said.

History teacher Samuel Goh, 28, who was there with his students, said: "I think it was good learning for the kids. It connected them to many things they didn't know about their own heritage and past."

Those interested in the Resilience Trails may find out more at

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 31, 2013

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