Istana and old railway station open to public

Istana and old railway station open to public
A member of the Nanyang Girls’ School Lion Dance Troupe entertaining the crowd during the Chinese New Year open house at the Istana.

FORMER locomotive technician Abdul Raffik Khan has fond memories of working for Malayan Railways (KTM) at the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

The 72-year-old worked there for four decades, starting at the age of 18.

Yesterday, he returned to his old workplace in Keppel Road, when his family organised a surprise visit on a day the former railway station allowed free entry from 9am to 6pm.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Khan, with tears in his eyes, said: "I was paid a four-figure salary and given a three-bedroom flat to live in. KTM gave free hospitalisation and medical benefits for me and my family."

His five children - four sons and a daughter - also have fond memories of growing up around the tracks. One of them, Mr Mohamad Nazir Khan, 44, said he would run after the trains as they pulled out.

Yesterday, about 500 people visited the station, which closed in 2011 after 79 years. Built between 1929 and 1931, it was gazetted as a national monument in 2013.

Meanwhile, more than 46,000 visitors visited the grounds of the Istana during its open house yesterday. They watched performances by local and international groups, including an all-girl lion dance troupe and a troupe of Chinese acrobats.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan greeted visitors and posed for photographs.

This article was first published on Feb 21, 2015.
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