Malaysia > Perak > Tapah Road Train Station

Thursday, 23rd April 2009

Today I found myself passing through Tapah (Perak), and naturally I just had to check the train station out. This is another of my sentimental stations, as in the 70s I went to a school in Kuala Kangsar, and for school holidays, our mode of transport home was the train. In those days, Tapah Road was an important junction because here a line from Teluk Intan (then ‘Telok Anson’, a major port during the British Empire days) met the main KL-Ipoh line. Unfortunately this major Teluk Intan line, completed in 1893, is now no longer around, even most of the rails have been stripped off.

Location: HERE

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Tapah Road is literally a one-street town just off the state route A10 leading westwards out of Tapah proper. At the far end, this single main road ends at the train station.
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Well, a T-junction really, to the left the road is a narrow lane ending at a village, while to the right into the car park of the new station. Next to the junction, the staff quarters in the familiar old cream-and-brown colours are most welcoming.
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Right in front of me, the old station! I can’t believe it, the poor thing has not been demolished like its contemporaries elsewhere?
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I duly park my car, and yes, there it is – the old station, almost being nudged by the huge platform of the brand new complex.
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Looks dilapidated, but obviously still in decent shape. With memories of my ’70s train journeys still fresh, I just have to explore.
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The familiar signs are still there, on the platform side, but the old platform itself has been consumed by the humongous new one on the right. By the way ‘MUJ T. ROAD’ means ‘Merinyu Urus Jalan Tapah Road’, a sort of rail-track maintenance inspector.
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I am thrilled to bits – an old station still in full glory, well almost. I just love the cream-brown theme!
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Built in the 1880s, Tapah Road was a key gateway for goods and people going to and coming from the then major port of Telok Anson, and for visitors going to the Cameron Highlands – both important to the British colonialists. I walk along the main corridor, imagining the right side of this photo fronting the busy main road, with people streaming in and out of the station.
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Step into the station from the road, one would see the ticket counter to the left. Straight ahead, the platform, obviously now gone.
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I look left at the rest of the station. The design is similar to other major stations of that era. There’s an open space over there, a sort of concourse where probably a food stall was operating, but now a storage for cable drums.
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I inadvertently disturb a napping resident among the drums.
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At the southern end of the station, another ‘room’, probably a store.
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On the floor, among the junks, a couple of signboards. Note the confused spelling and grammar.
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The exterior of the station shows a typical station of the old days, …
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… wooden, cream-and-brown, and the familiar grilles protecting the windows.
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Done with the old, on with the new … the gleaming brand new Tapah Road Station.
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Climb up the stairs at the grand entrance, there’s the ticket office to the left, and an eatery – not yet opened – to the right, the platforms straight ahead.
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Get your tickets here. Once regular commuter service between Ipoh and KL commences (soon?), this is gonna be one busy spot.
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But please observe the house rules first.
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Beautifully done, I must admit, and the power cables are already energised, ready to drive fast electric trains between Ipoh and KL.
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Platform 1 here, for southbound traffic, …
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… and Platform 2 over there. Access to Platform 2 is via a bridge from Platform 1.
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Looking north, the station feels airy and comfortable, with pretty good ambience. I’m impressed. The beginning of a new era of Malaysian train travel?Image

I take one final look at the handsome 1m-gauge double tracks in the afternoon sun.
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Walking along the inner corridor behind the main platform, this looks to be one pleasant station.
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So it’s not surprising that it has won a major award.
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The wall of the station master’s office is a treasure trove of information, especially of locomotives of yore.
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I recognise the ’38 steam engine. I think it was still operating in the late ’60s when I first had my train ride, from Krai to Lipis – the Jungle Railway. Noisy, smokey, pitch black and hissingly terrifying to a small kid like me, and in a tunnel be prepared to have soot on your face and in your hair. :D
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More old train info, and a whiteboard shows currently operating trains’ configurations. Note the smokey locomotives in the sketches – old habits die hard.
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I exit the new train station and at the southern end, where the old station is, I notice a white brick tower.
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Obviously being preserved, this could be the water tower to feed the steam engines in the old days.
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I peer inside the structure, and note the whitish top part of the tower. I suspect there used to be a water tank up there. The pipes from the tank would exit the holes to the serve the steam locomotives.
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I leave Tapah Road Station and take the new stretch of route A10, which totally bypasses Tapah Road as it heads west. The road passes above the train yard, where it’s a huge 4-lane bridge. I pause to take a look.
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Looking south, the five tracks converge into two. I try to identify the junction of the defunct line heading for Teluk Intan.
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There it is, but alas, no more rails, just some clearing to tell me where the old Teluk Intan line used to be. The Junction, no more.Image

The tracks look lonely now, but soon expect some 32 shuttle trips per day plying the KL-Ipoh route, in addition to other trains. With speed of up to 140km/h, it’s only 2hrs 15mins to do the journey. Bus operators better be afraid.
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To the left of the yard, I see what seems to be an abandoned kampung, which must have witnessed the history of Tapah Road Station itself.
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I cross the 4-lane road to the other side to gaze at the huge new station.
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Look closer, and you can see the old station, with its rusty zinc roof, facing the junction of the old road. What a long way Tapah Road Station has come. It’s a metamorphosis, indeed. The good news is, together with the old stations of Batu Gajah and Tanjung Malim, they have been slated to be turned into museums. 😀
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With the hot sun baking my backside, I escape into the comfort of the car and head for Pasir Salak, 40km away, the subject of my next tale. img_4792

> THE END

14 Comments

  1. Dan 29 May 2009
  2. ismadi 9 December 2009
  3. faizal 20 May 2010
  4. ramani 19 August 2010
  5. A Ong 29 September 2010
  6. Rampala 4 February 2011
  7. Aru 3 September 2011
  8. naimAuthor 5 September 2011
  9. ijai 16 November 2011
  10. Raymond Pearce 18 March 2013
  11. Mike Whitley 13 April 2013
  12. Rodziah Md. Yusuf 16 May 2013
  13. iDeck 6 August 2013
  14. Lim 23 November 2013

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