It took five months for the half-kilometre-long Tanjong Pagar Railway Station platform canopies to be carefully cut into 63 pieces, each measuring 9m by 13m by 6m, and moved to a storage yard located a five-minute drive away.
The process, completed last November and helmed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), saw the removal of a 580m stretch of the platform to allow work to be carried out on the new underground Cantonment MRT station - part of the Circle Line extension.
But the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station will return to its old location in all its landmark glory, thanks to an ambitious $33.5 million heritage preservation effort. The 86-year-old building will be linked to Cantonment MRT station upon completion in 2025.
Once that construction is done, the canopies, comprising the roof, beams and columns, will be reassembled at the station's original site. Some parts - 80m of each platform extending from the station building - have been left untouched at the original site as they do not interfere with construction.
The Tanjong Pagar station closed its doors on Dec 26, 2016.
Breaking down the canopies proved to be quite a task, The Straits Times learnt on a tour of the LTA yard yesterday.
The project kicked off with the installation of temporary steel supports under the canopies. A self-propelled modular transporter was used to brace and move the structures, so they could be cut and detached from the platform slab.
FIVE-STEP PROCESS TO RELOCATE PLATFORMS
1. The self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) is set up to brace and move the platform canopies.
2. Canopies are cut at the roof and bottom of columns.
3. Cut panels are separated from adjoining panels and detached from the platform slab.
4. 63 panels are moved using the SPMT to a restoration yard about a five-minute drive away.
5. These panels, each measuring 9m by 13m by 6m, are stored at the yard. All repair work will be conducted here.
Parts of the canopies' unique fascia fins - or grooves on their eaves - were removed to eliminate the risk of damage during the move.
The panels were then taken to the nearby storage yard.
LTA has started restoration work on the first panel. Steps taken to restore the canopy's 1932 look include replacing chipped-off plaster and washing off stains.
Construction of Cantonment MRT station begins next month. The Circle Line extension, with Cantonment, Keppel and Prince Edward stations, will close the loop for the Circle Line by connecting HarbourFront and Marina Bay stations.
The preservation effort was a "timely action", said heritage consultancy Neumind International founder Gan Ee Bee, which came about "on the basis of harmonic relations between community requirements, economic activity and protection of historical sites".
Singapore University of Technology and Design's Dr Yeo Kang Shua, an architectural conservation specialist, said it is a win not only for Singapore heritage, but also for the entire British Malaya. Tile panels found in the station hall reflect past key Malayan industries, he said.
"It is our shared history. It is not just historical, economical, but also social. Many Singaporean families have relations living in the peninsular and have memories travelling on the railways up north."