Tag Archives: railway stations in perak

Old Railway Stations: Going, Going, Gone!

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We, the Perak Heritage Society are very concerned about the eventual total loss of the evidence of our railway history, a heritage that belongs to all Malaysians. It appears that in the upgrading of the railway infrastructure, none of the first stations and bridges will be retained.

As the double-tracking and electric rail project of the northern line from Ipoh to Padang Besar progresses towards completion, we lament that no stations, not even those over a hundred years old will be safe from demolition, despite promises that selected stations will stay. Stations over one hundred years old are antiquities; they are supposed to be protected by law.

Railway stations are critical components of our industrial heritage. It is a fact that the first railway was built in 1885 to transport tin to Port Weld (now Kuala Sepetang) for smelting in Penang and then to England for industrial applications, especially in the canning of food. Soon, as the country grew and prospered, more lines to the ports were built, and then towns were linked for the transportation of goods and people. Why can’t these historical buildings be incorporated by design into the new station as a museum piece? They have been strategic landmarks in their town for over a hundred years.

We understand that the royal town of Kuala Kangsar wants a new, modern station. Despite good intentions of saving the 1899 station for posterity, problems with acquiring adjacent land for a new station became reasons for its removal. As saving grace, the new station should prominently display well-researched and designed panels with stories and photographs of the old station.

As for the Chemor station, it is incomprehensible that while the Ipoh Local Draft Plan 2020 earmarks it for preservation, KTM has decided to go ahead with demolishing it. Are the authorities working in tandem or are they engaged in a power game?

The PHS suggests that these charming old stations be retained, including those in Batu Gajah and Tanjung Malim on the southern Ipoh-Kuala Lumpur stretch. They can be commercially viable, creatively adapted into local history gallery, reading room, eatery, visitors’ centre, or some other happening place for community-linked activities, to help promote the culture of sustainable living. In the case of Chemor, the railway quarters there can become ‘homestays’.

For all the effort that KTM has put into saving the paraphernalia of railway, it has sorely missed out on the most important and obvious of its services: the original, charming, well-constructed historic railway stations of the FMS (Federated Malay States Railway), the precursor to KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu).

It is our fervent hope that decision makers at KTM and the powers that be rethink the demolition of their historic buildings in Perak. Let us not deprive the future generations of this heritage in the name of “upgrading” and development.

Let us, instead, inculcate in the young the love for our shared heritage by preserving what ought to be preserved and not destroying them in exchange for all things new and gleaming. As long as our no-maintenance culture continues unabated, the new will soon tarnish while our love for heritage and history takes another beating.

The understanding and reconsideration of KTM in the matter is of utmost urgency for this is the last chance to save the last of the stations. What is gone is gone forever.

The PHS is prepared to work with KTM in finding ways to involve local businesses and community groups in bringing about the suggested re-uses and adaptations.

Mohd Taib Mohamed
President of Perak Heritage Society