Abandoned train station signals community revival in Singapore

With its efficient urban planning, Singapore has long had a highly regulated approach to public space. Can community-focused projects like the redevelopment of the abandoned Tanjong Pagar station enliven the city-state?

It’s a public holiday in Singapore, and drizzling rain has given way to sticky, hot weather. But this hasn’t dissuaded visitors at Tanjong Pagar station. In the mid-morning sun, families and couples walk along the railway tracks. Young children are particularly eager to totter over the old steel slats. Almost everyone is taking photos – whether with a selfie stick or a DSLR.

Jenny Goh, a 57-year-old mother and entrepreneur, is among the early visitors, telling me: “If you don’t take photos then when it’s gone, it’s really gone.” She has brought her grown-up daughter with her to see the station from which, as a child, she used to take the train to Malaysia to see her relatives. When the service stopped running in 2011, Goh was among the crowds who witnessed the last train pulling out of the station. Malaysia’s Sultan of Johor was behind the wheel.

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