The Jurong Line: Track and fields

Teh Jen Lee The New Paper AsiaOne 16 Aug 11;

Looking at these pictures, you might be wondering: "I thought the Tanjong Pagar railway track is already closed to the public?"

Well, this is the lesser-known Jurong Line, which was completed in 1965.

Back then, the railway track served as an extension into the newly-constructed Jurong Industrial Estate.

But due to inadequate traffic, it has been abandoned since the late 1980s.

The partially-dismantled track emerges from the Clementi Woodlands at Sunset Way, crossing the Ulu Pandan Canal via the much-photographed cast iron bridge.

The New Paper on Sunday explored the area with Mr Leong Kwok Peng, vice-president of Nature Society Singapore (NSS) and acting chairman of the NSS conservation committee.

In October, the NSS submitted a proposal to turn the area around the railway track into a continuous green corridor.

The proposal was developed in collaboration with the Singapore Heritage Society, cycling groups and interested architects.

Mr Leong, 54, said the Jurong Line is about 20km long and would link to the existing 100km under National Parks Board's (NParks) Park Connector Network (PCN), should the proposal be adopted.

"It would complement and be a nice alternative to the PCN, which tends to be more managed and manicured."

"The track lands have been reclaimed by nature, and together with the informal vegetable gardens that have been planted by nearby residents, it has a more countryside feel," said Mr Leong, who runs an outdoor adventure centre.

After the extended walk along the disused tracks, this reporter now understands the charm that the area exudes.

When we started walking in Clementi, "state land" signs were spotted, warning against trespassing.


But that soon gave way to large swathes of greenery.

The eyes were soothed by the myriad shades of green, the blooming wildflowers with their attendant butterflies, and the rust-red dragonflies that perfectly matched the colour of the tracks.

Birdsongs provided a nice break to the traffic noise that one is so used to hearing in Singapore. It's no wonder, because NSS bird surveys have recorded over 60 species in the area.

About a kilometre into the trek, we spotted informal gardens, with neat rows of plants and fruiting trees.

We came across smoke from a small fire, which was probably lit to burn garden waste.

Taking in a deep breath, Mr Leong smiled and said: "This is the natural kampung smell."

We came across Mr Sim Mui Tong, a container operator in his 40s, doing some hoeing in one of the informal vegetable gardens, which he said had been around for over 30 years.

He said in Mandarin: "The previous generation of residents started it. I come here whenever I'm free, like many other people living nearby.

"Whatever we grow, like sweet potato leaves, is shared. We also give away to those who ask."

Future plans for the area are unclear, but Mr Sim hopes that the Government can let the gardens stay.

Mr Leong said the green corridor proposal incorporates the gardens as they are a great way to bring communities together.

He added that there are more than 6,800 fans of the "We support the Green Corridor in Singapore" Facebook page.

He said that people wanted places like these to be preserved because there is just no price tag on such spaces.

"You can have all the money, but you can't recreate this," he said.