Saturday, April 12, 2014

Revisiting the 'Last Train Ride' location on the KTM railway tracks in Singapore


Just as the KTM railroad in Singapore was closed, our family activity on 31st July 2011 was covered by STOMP, a SPH Singapore Press Holdings website :


Amidst the crowd of people who came to see the railway tracks for the last time before the authorities would remove them, Mom's creative brother, Uncle Yen Wei brought his custom built aluminium cart to be assembled on the tracks to provide a 'Last Train Ride' for the kids!

At last the aluminium cart, with Ray in red on it, was tested to see how it would roll on the railroad track pulled by a human engine. 

Once it was proven to be successful and safe, the younger kids could be put on the cart too.

Here is Ray, overdoing it, to show it is even safe to sleep on the railroad itself!

When the children of other families saw how fun and safe it was, they all wanted to have a ride too!

Thanks to Uncle Yen Wei, we all had a memorable and fun family day!

Here is a video of the 'Last Train Ride' :




Coming close to 3 years after the above event, I joined a multinational group of people on a Saturday morning, in the month of April 2014, to hike on the old railroad tracks again :  

As can be seen, the SLA or Singapore Land Authority has designated the land where the KTM Malaysian trains once use to run on to be for recreational use.

The group starts off from the West Coast from the Jurong area, alighting from the Jurong East MRT station, to head to the direction of Bukit Timah Road area.

We would essentially hike along the old 1932-1990 old railway trail(the purple line above) to join the newer railway trail of 1932-2011(the green line) that runs through Bukit Timah.

Right at the early part of the trail from the Jurong East MRT station, the hikers could already see parts of Singapore that most have never seen before like the vegetable and fruit gardens near the HDB flats

With irrigation/drainage ditches covered with flowering water lilies

Soon we walked under a bridge though an under pass...

 ...coming out on the other side.

We climbed up to the top of a bridge to a road that enters the AYE highway.

This is the view looking up to the bridge from below

This is the view from Google Map street view on the top which can be accessed by clicking here.  

The photo above was taken on the day of our hike and notice the coconut tree matches the tree seen in the Google Map street view of the earlier photo.

This is the view from Google Map street view by moving a little bit further to the front and zooming closer toward the German Centre building as can be accessed here. Notice the view is similar to the photo taken on the day of the hike posted above.

We started to walk towards the green grassy area off the AYE

 There were open wide space terrain following slightly hidden old rail tracks from the 1930s


Soon the trail begins to look more like the Malaysian jungle trails

With obstacles to go over or under

The steel iron rails remain very visible with fallen trees on them along the way

Parts of the rails were covered in mud and water, especially in tunnels, but it was still useful to walk on them. It was tricky trying to balance ourselves walking on the narrow rail with water on both sides and we used a branch we broke off earlier to serve as a walking stick.

More obstacles to maneuver around

Then the terrain turned to bushy grass with light undergrowth

The trail eventually meets up with the 

Soon we join up to the newer railroad trail that ran from 1932 all the way to 2011 at the Bukit Timah area. As you can see, only some parts of the railway tracks are kept intact.

This starts from the old Bukit Timah train station...

... to the railway bridge nearby.

The google map photo above shows how far the group had hiked as shown by the red arrow assuming where 'The crow flies' as they say. This map without the red arrow can be viewed here.

From the bridge, I can see Rifle Range Road.

Rifle Range Road is off the busy Dunearn Road that the railway bridge passes

So you see how the railway track is nicely cut off after the bridge.

Half the group including myself walked down after this bridge to Dunearn Road where with just one bus #961, it would take me back right to the bus stop in front of our home. The marvel of Singapore's efficient public transport system without the need for the old railway system.

A month later in May 2014 on a Wesak day public holiday, the trail from the direction of Dairy Farm Road toward the city is attempted without a guide but  with a high spirit of adventure and surprises

With signs to help, one would think it would be helpful

There was actually a tarred road to begin with so all seems well until...

... someone decided lets take the small path off the tarred road!

Suddenly there was a shout 'Bike' and everyone had to squeeze to the side to make way for a mountain biker sharing the narrow trail!
As we got further along the trail, someone shouted 'Monkeys' and was pointing up to a tree branch!

We looked up and saw one....

...and a few more above us!

There was a notice board to show that we were at the Dairy Farm Pass entrance with a map of bike trails.

 The trail soon came out to a wide field

 There were some small granite hills in the area
We met more bikers in groups now

We went closer to explore a granite hill

 A slope of the hill was practically a vertical wall straight up to the top! No way anyone could climb up I thought!

Little did I know some of the hikers were prepared with ropes and hooks!

Up she went, securing each part of the rope with a hook to the ring embedded on the rock

All the way to the top until she could be at the center of the wall in abseiling position like when we were in Pahang caves in Malaysia last December except we slid downwards from the top while this woman scaled all the way to the top!

We let the climbers continue while we found another notice board with a map to figure our way our of the nature reserve area and head closer to civilization to follow the old KTM rails tracks back to the city

We saw some lovely red 'Jambu' fruits on a tree but being close to the old railway tracks by the housing estate but it looked reserved and not for public consumption!

The Rail Mall landmark was passed where over 3 years ago we had the now famous 'Last Train Ride'! journalized at the start of this post.

The railway sleepers were still there but only preserved in parts where there is a railway bridge

For the rest of the way, it would be a clear path without any tracks and families would enjoy a pleasant hike...
... with the ability to walk safely into the city without running into cars as the old tracks would go under the highways and avoid noise and pollution of the heavy traffic above!

 Yes even dogs could be let free to run along the old train tracks without fear of any dangerous vehicles!

Cyclists too could transverse the city state island without any danger of heavy vehicles and pollution.

The nice part is that hikers on foot could always get out of the old rail tracks at any railway bridge to find the nearest bus stop to head home without any further walking!


No comments: