death by paper cut











{October 30, 2011}   The Green Corridor – Old Jurong Line

in support of The Green Corridor, i subscribe to the facebook page We Support The Green Corridor to follow updates of their activities especially walks organised for the public along the old railway track.

i did not manage to join in the walks along the better known bukit timah railway but jumped at the opportunity to attend the walk at the old jurong line. the old jurong line, i was told at the walk, begins at jurong shipyard at jurong industrial park, extends along teban gardens, sunset way and connects with the bukit timah line after ulu pandan.

the old jurong line is in purple (defunct for eleven years now)

Re-Imagining the Rail Corridor 6

Re-Imagining the Rail Corridor 5

i learnt at the walk that the old jurong line was meant to provide transport for goods disembarking at jurong shipyard into malaysia because the market of the malaysia of 1963 (merger with singapore) was expected to be large. this economic plan however fell through upon singapore’s separation from malaysia rendering old jurong line not as highly utilised as originally intended.

this except from the singapore heritage society website puts it much better:

The 24km Jurong Branch line, conceived before merger with Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah to form the geobody of Malaysia, was intended in the third phase to imagine an economy of industrial production that was connected to the main line, but also to markets in the peninsula and in South Thailand, despite Singapore’s subsequent separation from it in 1965.

because of the starkly industrial nature of the jurong industrial area, dr lai chee kien of the department of architecture, nus said that it was a deliberate attempt to make the residential area in the vicinity more green and livable. such consideration resulted in the naming of the housing estates in the area pandan gardens, teban gardens and chinese garden (which is also an actual park unlike the former pseudo two). this is also why the jurong bird park is situated in this part of singapore. the choice of the bird park was made over a zoological gardens for the practical reason that birds are cheaper.

i have a vested interest in the part of the old jurong line where the walk coincidentally begins because i live here. in fact, with the inevitable relocation to newer flats in the same estate within a year or two due to enbloc, my family and i will be living within metres of the old jurong line. unlike the more popular bukit timah railway, there is no public support to re-imagine this part of the rail corridor for designated civic use.

therein lies the irony. if the jurong line is left alone as it is, the community gardens or informal plantations as referred to in the above map can continue to exist and be cared for by the residents in the area. This is a truly grassroots phenomenon because the creation of these informal plantations on (formerly) malaysian land along the old jurong line is spontaneous and carried out without applying for a permit. i was informed on the walk that the natural inclination to cultivate land for fruits and vegetables is an impetus carried on and forward by former kampung folks with innately green fingers. evidently, they have done an excellent job of it. these informal plantations have aided a flourishing organic regrowth over the rotting wood and rusting metal since the old jurong line ceased its operation.

it would be a shame if the authorities were to act on taking back the land on which these informal plantations thrive, cordon the area from the residents (with the infamous STATE LAND do not trespass sign) and leave it derelict.

the start of the walk. my new apartment block is towering on the right.

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 7

tall grass where the tracks used to be

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 11

wong kum seng of nature society (singapore) pointing out flora of note

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 13

i used to open these pods to let out the seeds. i hardly touch greenery these days.

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 14

of course we had to disregard this sign to continue on with the walk

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 18

the informal plantations are in fact rather systematic

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 22

squatter residence or the extension of the HDB backyard?

notice a man boiling a pot of something on the bottom right quarter of this montage

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 23 The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 25

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 24 The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 26

wolf spider on its web with some morning dew

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 28

entrance of a pitched black and very muddy tunnel

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 29

reaching the exit

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 31

exiting. do not try this alone.

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 34

navigating over and through the scaffolding

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 37

making it through and reaching for higher ground

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 39

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 40

to get to school, i’ve had to cross this bridge for ten years to get to the bus stop along the ayer raja expressway (AYE) and i’ve often stood here to wonder where this railway line comes from, where it leads to and what lies under this bridge. this part of the walk was therefore immensely surreal because the mystery unraveled with each step.

over the decades i’ve witness foliage and shrubbery encroach towards the railway line and finally completely engulf it like it has now.

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 41

continuing along the AYE which is parallel to the old jurong line heading towards sunset way

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 51

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 52

nature takes over

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 59

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 60

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 61

rejoining and walking along the old jurong line amongst lallang

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 67

cutting through more undergrowth

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 70

and behold, suddenly, a playground at faber crest condominium

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 75

continuing along the old jurong line along sungei ulu pandan

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 87

larger informal plantations near clementi avenue four

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 098

aunty drawing water from a well the old fashioned way to water the informal plantations
clusters of chinese shrines informally maintained in the background

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 114

a malay and chinese syncretised diety. the diety is adorned with the songkok and sarong. my mom told me that this diety is called datuk gong and common in the kampungs. read this article for more insight on the datuk gong.

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 108

trudging towards sunset way

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 118

the end of the line

this time, we really took heed of the signpost to keep out

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 120

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 122

although the section of the old jurong line that crosses sungei ulu pandan is closed off, the journey can be continued along the ulu pandan park connector. soon, this old jurong line will join up with the bukit timah line.

i’m glad for this opportunity to discover and travel long this historically and culturally rich three kilometre section of the old jurong line. as you can see, many portions of this walk is not safe to traverse alone or in the dark and has been closed off from the public for very good reasons. however, the closing off these parts also creates pockets of sanctuaries for nature to thrive independently or as informal plantations. even without official directives, residents do actually know how to make ingenious and productive use of the land around them. with the passing on of such older folks with first hand knowledge of cultivation however, it might not be too long before even such informal plantations are left to the elements or reclaimed by the state.

The Green Corridor walk along Old Jurong Line - Teban Gardens to Sunset Way 3km 121

in the meantime, someone has left this pensive lone chair along sungei ulu pandan to mull this over.



[…] foliage, removal of tracks, and to cultivated land. in recent times,  i had the opportunity to walk through a stretch of 3km along the old jurong line from teban gardens to sunset way led by the supporters of the green […]



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