Kuala Lumpur railway station
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The Kuala Lumpur railway station is a railway station located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Construction began in 1910 and was fully completed in 1917. It replaced an older station on the same site, the station was Kuala Lumpur's railway hub in the city for the Federated Malay States Railways and its successor Keretapi Tanah Melayu (English: Malayan Railways), before Kuala Lumpur Sentral assumed much of its role in 2001. The station is notable for its architecture, adopting a mixture of Eastern and Western designs.
The station is located along a road named Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, previously known as Victory Avenue, which in turn was part of Damansara Road. The station is located closely to the similarly designed Railway Administration Building, as well as the National Mosque and Dayabumi Complex. The Pasar Seni station is located 400 metres away, across the Klang River.
Prior to the construction of the current Kuala Lumpur station, two stations were already operational in the city.
The first railway station in Kuala Lumpur, nicknamed Resident Station due to its proximity to the residence of British High Commissioner, was completed and located opposite to the Selangor Club (today Dataran Merdeka) towards the west. Constructed of wood and a nipah palm roof, the station was the first in Kuala Lumpur, linking Kuala Lumpur to Klang (Pengkalan Batu) via the first railway line to connect the city with the rest of the Malay Peninsula (officially inaugurated 22 September 1886).
The second station, Sultan Street station, was constructed in 1892 at Foch Avenue (now Tun Tan Cheng Lock Road), close to the present Maybank Tower, the Puduraya bus station and Plaza Rakyat. Its design was based on Resident Station, and was stationed along the Pudu railway line, a new line that branched off north from the 1910 station, and connected mines from Ampang to the city. The line was unique in that the initial leg of the track approaching Sultan Street Station from the main line was sandwiched between two carriageways of Foch Avenue, cutting across the east side of the city.
Resident Station was demolished after construction of the new Kuala Lumpur station was completed. Meanwhile, Sultan Street Station was replaced by a smaller terminal station when the tracks at Foch Avenue were dismantled for road traffic, and was demolished after 1960. The Ampang-linked route is partially reused by the LRT Ampang line.
Design, construction and operation
Arthur Benison Hubback, a British Architectural Assistant to the Director of Public Works, undertook the design of the station. He incorporated the unique Anglo-Asian architecture in the region on the station's design. The "Neo-Moorish/Mughal/Indo-Saracenic/Neo-Saracenic" style was not uncommon at the time. Similar structures, such as the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (credited to A.C. Norman but largely designed by R.A.J. Bidwell, completed 1897), the Old City Hall (designed by A.B. Hubback, completed 1904) and the Jamek Mosque (designed by A.B. Hubback, completed 1909), pre-date Kuala Lumpur station.
At a cost of $23,000, the station was completed and operational on 1 August 1910. After the demolition of Resident Station and the isolation of Sultan Street station, the Kuala Lumpur station became the main railway station in Kuala Lumpur. A railway hotel, the Station Hotel (later renamed the Heritage Station Hotel in 1996), occupied the northern sections of the central station and the upper floors of the station, boasting 170 rooms and an ornate lobby housing Charlies Restaurant & Bar as off the late-2000s. In 1995, access to KTM Komuter services was introduced at the station.
After the diversion of long-distance intercity rail traffic less than a kilometer south to Kuala Lumpur Sentral on 15 April 2001, the original station's importance diminished. While intercity trains continue to pass the station, they no longer stop there, relegating the station to being a stop for Komuter and goods services. As a result of declining passenger traffic and patronage, redundant station facilities, such as staffed ticket counters for intercity services, station offices and rented businesses spaces, were decommissioned or slowly vacated. The Heritage Station Hotel ceased operation in 2011 following declining patronage and a series of mismanaged renovations in the late-2000s; the hotel was briefly reopened in 2014 before closing the same year. While the side platforms of the original station, which have already been raised to a leveled height for smooth embarking and disembarking for intercity coaches, were readily usable from KTM Komuter trains, the configuration of the island platform and access to services in the first 15 years of the Komuter's service meant that the original station could not be maximised for use as a transportation stop for electric trains until 2009 renovations raised the last of the original platforms (see platform).
In the months leading up to 31 August 2007, the 50th anniversary of Malaya's independence, various sources reported the transfer of various old railway equipment from a railway warehouse in Klang and a few other locations to the old Kuala Lumpur station. This included a small restored shunter and an antique fire engine. The station was officially reopened on 31 August 2007 as a railway museum (where exhibitions are placed in the main hall and platform of the station), and was mooted to be converted into a cultural centre.
Renovations, upgrades and changes
The station has undergone several major changes in its modern history. The north wing was converted for office use by 1967, closing off the arched verandahs with windows. In 1986, the station was more extensively refurbished, with the interior and relevant windows replaced with modern counterparts while the exterior was repaired and preserved, and additional new facilities and buildings, including air-conditioned waiting halls, tourism information counters and snack bars. Parts of the station's original interior designs and frames are still present in the Heritage Station Hotel.
The refurbishment also saw an additional extension built on the south wing of the building, sporting "Raj" stylings that dominates much of the building, and the addition of a frontal façade for the north wing that sports similar architectural elements, masking hints of Western designs from the front. These changes resulted in the building sporting two additional chhatris, two on the corner of each wing, alongside the original four.
Other modifications made onto the old building included the rear wall of the station carved open and extended to accommodate a new station entrance, taxi stops, several office and retail spaces, while additional double-storey retail spaces were constructed over one of the two adjacent frontal access roads to the main building. The 1986 remodelling also saw platform extensions to the north and a new station building in the area, which connected to the General Post Office at the then newly completed Dayabumi Complex (constructed 1982 to 1984).
When KTM Komuter services were launched in 1995 to serve the Rawang-Seremban Route and the Sentul-Port Klang Route, ticket counters and faregates were added to the station, in common with other KTM Komuter stations. The location of Komuter facilities meant that only the newer island platform could be used by KTM Komuter trains (see platform).
After Kuala Lumpur Sentral assumed the responsibility of receiving intercity operations, portions of station facilities designated for intercity services were decommissioned or removed. Limited intercity services were reintroduced to the station following the station's designation as an ETS stop in 2009.
The station contains three platforms serving four railway tracks, consisting of two side platforms (platforms 1 and 4) on both sides and one island platform (platforms 2 and 3) in between. The numbered designations originally applied to the lengths of both the original and extended platforms from the 1986 renovation until the introduction of Komuter in 1995, when extensions of the original platforms 2 and 3 were assigned additional "a" suffixes, i.e. platforms 2a and 3a, while designations for platforms 1 and 4 remain unchanged.
When the station originally opened in 1910 all platforms were elevated relative to the tracks but were lower than the train floor; all platforms were connected by two tunnels, respectably accessible via stairways for passengers or ramps for trolleys. The 1986 renovation, which added extended platforms elevated to the level of the train floor, had also partially raised the old side platforms to match the height of the 1986 platforms (the tunnel entrances were unaffected by the remodelling as they were located well away from the platform edges), but left the height of the old island platform largely unchanged. As a result, platforms 2 and 3 were unprepared to deal with passengers entering and exiting Komuter trains. In anticipation of the introduction of longer ETS and Komuter EMUs, renovation works were conducted in 2009 to raise platforms 2 and 3, removing century-old surface-level tunnel railings and sealing off the stairway exit from one of the tunnels to platforms 2 and 3. Larger canopy shelters connecting the old and new train sheds were also added in 2006.
The platforms have been designated the following functions:
- Until Intercity services moved to Kuala Lumpur Sentral in 2001, platforms 1 and 4 were typically assigned to service Intercity trains. As such, ticket counters for the train services were located within the old and new station buildings. When passenger traffic at the platforms ceased after 2001, the platforms continued to be used to transfer goods to and from trains. The side platforms, like the lobby of the old station building, were open to the public between 2001 and 2011, as Komuter faregates were located at the old island platform rather than within the station building. Following renovations in 2009, the platforms were repurposed for use by the ETS in 2011 with tickets sold at counters located in the former railway fan clubhouse.
- Like the side platforms, the island platforms (platforms 2 and 3, including the 1986 extension) originally served as platforms for Intercity trains services. When Komuter services were introduced in 1995, the 1986 stretch of the island platform was renumbered to platforms 2a and 3a, to be reassigned for trains serving the Rawang-Seremban and Sentul-Port Klang Routes. Due to the still low height of the old island platform, Komuter trains could not stop at the original stretch of platforms 2 and 3, and as such ticket faregates for Komuter services were installed towards the northern end of platforms 2 and 3 to the south as well as the modern exit for platforms 2a and 3a to the north. This also left the original platforms 2 and 3 disused following the discontinuation of intercity services in 2001. With the old island platform raised following the 2009 platform renovation, Komuter and ETS trains could stop along the entire stretch of platforms 2 and 3, moving the southern faregates away from the old platform and into the old station building.
When originally completed in 1917, the Kuala Lumpur railway station consisted of a main terminal building at the front and three platforms serving four railway tracks at the back.
The main structure, which contains a main hall, ticket counters, railway offices and the railway hotel, is primarily designed in a "Raj" styling, mixture of Western and Mughal similar to Moorish Revival or Indo-Saracenic architecture. Dominated by horseshoe and ogee arches, and large chhatris (six originally, with two added later) at the corners of the building accompanying smaller variations at the front, the station is comparable to its contemporaries like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, surrounding structures constructed around the Merdeka Square and the Railway Administration Building directly across the street. In addition to the main station building, a three-storey addition at the north wing was added early in its operation, adopting more Westernised vernacular designs with surrounding venrendahs and segmental arches of various widths. The façade of the station is completely plastered, as opposed to buildings of similar styles that opt for exposed brickwork, and painted in light colours (usually white or cream) throughout its service.
The platforms are covered by large steel-framed shelters, which were initially shorter during the station's early operation. The roofs were originally glazed, and were partially opened to allow smoke from steam locomotives to escape; corrugated roof sheets served as replacements later in the station's life. The sides of the platforms not adjoining the main building are surrounded by walls constructed in the same style as the main building. The platforms and main building are linked to each other via two underground passageways.
The design of the extended platform for the 1986 refurbishment of the station took a more modernist approach, consisting simply of large concrete pillars supporting a latticed roof and a ticket office on concrete slabs at the north end, suspended two stories above ground. White walls and arches that serve as decorations to the extension mimic design cues from both the old station and the Dayabumi complex. The new extension is also connected to Dayabumi via an elevated walkway.
Around the station
- Directly across Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin:
- To the south:
- Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration
- To the north:
- Across the Klang River:
- Colour Scenery of Singapore & Malaysia. Singapore: Sing Wah & Co. c. 1960.
- “A loss to K.L”. https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g298570-d637810-r263673793-Heritage_Station_Hotel-Kuala_Lumpur_Wilayah_Persekutuan.html