Should we be happy or sad about the withdrawal of KTM from Singapore?

Like many people, TRANSIT is gearing up for the closing of the KTM railway stations at Tg. Pagar and Bukit Timah in Singapore.

As you probably know by now, the last trains will leave Tg. Pagar on June 30, 2011. From 1 July 2011 all KTM Train services will stop at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Some people have taken to celebrating the final days of KTM service in Singapore by visiting the train stations, planning trips etc.

But Karim Mahsood of KL argues that June 30 is not a day for celebration.

Railways: June 30 not a joyous day for KTMB

2011/06/23

letters@nst.com.my

I REFER to the front-page report, “Tickets snapped up for KTMB’s final Tanjung Pagar service” (NST, June 14).

It will be appropriate to mark, as a momentous and solemn event, the last train journey out of Tanjung Pagar station on June 30.

But it would be wrong for anyone to use that day as an occasion to rejoice or party on the train. This is because June 30 is not a joyous day but a heartbreaking episode for KTMB (Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd) as an integral part of Singapore history. The British colonial authorities had, in 1918, sold to the Federated Malay States the properties and estates owned by Singapore Railway.

KTMB would not have had any cause to close down Tanjung Pagar or relocate its terminus to another place in Singapore had it not been for a series of unfortunate steps which began in 1990 with a lopsided agreement between Malaysia and Singapore called the POA (Points of Agreement), and culminating in the deal last year requiring KTMB to relocate from Tanjung Pagar to Woodlands on June 30.

The move by KTMB to Woodlands will signal the beginning of the transfer to Singapore not only of the historic station building in Tanjung Pagar but also 175.7ha of KTMB land, estimated to be worth billions, in exchange for joint development of six small parcels of land in Marina South and Ophir-Rocher in the southern part of Singapore.

The Woodlands checkpoint is not a railway station but a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station belonging to Singapore.

As such it is possible that KTMB will be compelled to retreat further north to Johor Baru — sooner rather than later.

When that happens, a glorious chapter in the history of KTMB operations to and from Singapore would be forced into early closure.

That is why June 30 will be a sad day, and certainly not an occasion for any celebration.

KARIM MAHSOOD Kuala Lumpur

TRANSIT Says:

Happy or sad? Or mixed feelings? Either way this is the end of an era for KTM as well as for Malaysia-Singapore relations. The end of KTM service in Singapore is almost like the final act* of the long-standing divorce of Malaysia and Singapore. How should we mark its passing?

*Aside from the political side (the expulsion of Singapore from the federation), there are other things like 1962 separation of The University of Malaya into the University of Malaya and the University of Singapore (a sign of things to come?) and the 1972 separation of Malaysia-Singapore Airlines, that have marked turning points in Malaysia-Singapore independence.

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3 thoughts on “Should we be happy or sad about the withdrawal of KTM from Singapore?”

  1. Should we be happy or sad about the withdrawal of KTM from Singapore?

    neither. we should not bother about this event by pretending it never happened…

    …that’s what the majority of the folks in Singapore and Malaysia would be doing, so why should we be bothered to care about this event.

    Partially it is KTM’s fault for not improving their service to Singapore, not upgrading the tracks (electrification), buying new rolling stock or providing better service by expanding the service. KTM had 93 years to prove it self to Singapore or at least 50 if you minus the years wasted due to the world wars, and how significant is KTM to Singapore? Sadly, the answer is not that much. Economically, Singapore port plays a more important role to Singapore, socially Singapore’s MRT systems really acts to coordinate and integrate its whole society.

    Even in KL, many of KTM’s spur lines are rotting and being abandoned. Why should Singapore care about this failing transport company that can’t even dominate the transport industry in it’s home country?

  2. The pullback of KTM trains lies with one key issue — why should one country allow another country to have land presence (and a huge one) in its country? Especially when the strip of lands cut up land parcels which prevent proper development or reap land planning benefits?

  3. i think it is a good thing for following reasons
    1) the land may be valuable but what value is it if stays unlocked? ppl travelling from s/pore to msia rarely uses KTM (good tosai or what not). they use bus / plane / car / motorbikes. as a consequence the causeway is jammed up everytime there is a public hol / school hols

    2) a good train system benefits both countries, but msia more so. tourists from SG can travel up north bringing SING$ to msia. workers from JB is unlikely to use train as it does not lead to industrial areas. they would more like drive / use bike

    3) good r/ship helps Msia. when the arabs pull out from Iskandar, we seek Sporean buyers. even when johoreans work in SG, they remit back $ to help out families

    4) matter is often politicized abt how the PM sells out S/pore. but in biz, if u want to get a deal u need to bring sthg to the negotiation table. sticking to your grounds makes u look good but does not help the country

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