The Federated Malay States Railway


Constituent Railways:

    1    The Perak Government Railway 1885 - 1901

    2    The Selangor Government Railway 1886 - 1901

    3    The Sungei Ujong Railway 1891 - 1908

    4    The Singapore Government Railway 1903 - 1912

    5    The Malacca Government Railway 1905 - 1906

    6    The Johore State Railway 1909 - 1912


Other Railways:

    1    The Johore Wooden Railway 1875 - 1880s

    2    The Muar State Railway 1890 - 1929

    3    The Sarawak Government Railway 1915 - 1947

    4    The North Borneo Railway 1902 - present (now Sabah State Railway)


        In the case of the above railways the dates shown are from the opening to traffic of the first section until their full incorporation into the Federated Malay States Railway (constituent railways only) which itself ceased to exist from the time of the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1941. The history of each individual railway will be dealt with separately and can be accessed by links which will be activated when the pages are ready. Currently, only the Singapore Government Railway is fully available; the Johore State Railway page has a brief summary page with details of the locomotives and links to some other railways in Johore while the Selangor Government Railway is mainly a pictorial history at present. Details of the locomotives used can be found at the foot of this page as well as the foot of many other pages.


A brief history of the area.


    In the 17th and 18th centuries the Malay peninsula contained nothing more than a collection of individual states or Sultanates, some of the more northerly ones being under the control of Siam. These included Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu. Malacca was a Dutch settlement and the British established a settlement on Penang island in 1786 so that the East India company could set up a port. The British occupied Malacca in 1795 and the Dutch handed over control in 1824. Raffles established the British settlement on Singapore island, which belonged to the Sultan of Johore, in 1819 and the Sultan ceded it to Britain in 1824. Two years later Singapore, Malacca and Penang joined to form the Straits Settlements which were administered from India from 1826 to 1867 after which they became a Crown Colony. By this time Penang included Province Wellesley, a slice of land on the Malay mainland between the states of Perak and Kedah.

    In the 1860s British companies in the Straits Settlements invested in the tin mines of Perak and Selangor and a British Resident was appointed in both these states in 1874, this system being extended to Pahang in 1887 and Negri Sembilan in 1889 and these four states founded the Federated Malay States in 1896. Meanwhile, an 1885 treaty had made Johore a British Protectorate and Sultan Abu Bakar, who wished to maintain independence, established the Johore Advisory Board in London in 1886, which gave him direct access to the Colonial Office.

    In 1909 the British signed a treaty with Siam whereby in exchange for a preferential loan to construct a railway from Bangkok to the southern border of Siam the rights and powers over Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan would be ceded to the British who then appointed an Advisor to each state. In 1914 a British Resident was appointed for Johore and these five states became known as the Unfederated Malay States.


The formation of the FMSR


    With the exception of the first Johore railways when the Selangor and Perak systems were first started it had already been agreed that they may eventually be joined and that the metre gauge should be adopted as standard with this in mind. Also, the Colonial office had to be involved and all orders should go through the Crown Agents. This meant that the railways would effectively be under the control of the Governments and at least partially funded by them.

    As the Perak and Selangor Government Railway systems were expanding with plans for eventual connection the formation of the Federated Malay States led to the formation of the Federated Malay States Railway by the merging of the Selangor and Perak systems and this came into being on 15th May 1901, although it would be 1903 before these two systems were physically connected.

    The Malacca Government Railway was absorbed in 1906, just a year after opening while the Sungei Ujong remained independent until 1908 having been independent for 17 years. In addition, it was the only line which did not have any locomotive types which were standard on the other lines. Finally in 1912 the Johore State Railway (on which the FMSR already had an operating lease agreement) and Singapore Government Railway became part of FMSR, although the latter was to remain physically disconnected from the rest until the causeway was opened 11 years later.



     Officially, steam operation ended in the mid 1970s, but due to motive power shortages a handful of locomotives remained on the books and saw some use until 1980 when all were withdrawn except for one which was kept back for special occasions and was in use as such in 1985. It was overhauled in 1995 for use on the privately operated Peninsular line train which it operated until 1997, then remained in a siding at Gemas until mid 2010 when it was moved closer to Kuala Lumpur for the 125th anniversary of the railway. After this it was moved to the new Museun in the old station at Johore Bahru. A few locomotives of classes L, O, P, T and WD survive as monuments but their true identity is unclear in come cases. Details follow:

    1    L class 4-6-2 531.01, formerly FMSR 214, Kitson 5300/1921. Preserved at Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur as 531.01.

    2    P class 4-6-2, formerly FMSR 185, later RSR 804, Kitson 5162/1917. Preserved in North Bangkok as FMSR 187.

    3    P class 4-6-2, formerly FMSR 190, later RSR 810, NB 22509/1919. Preserved at Kanchanaburi, Thailand as RSR 804.

    4    T class 0-6-2T 321.01, formerly FMSR 26, later 13, then Pan Malayan Cement. Preserved at Muzium Negara as 321.01 in PMC livery.

    5    O2 class 4-6-2, identity not confirmed but thought to be 562.04 Dungun. Preserved at Butterworth as 564.25 Kuala Lumpur.

    6    O4 class 4-6-2, formerly thought to be 564.20 or 564.21. Preserved at Port Dickson army museum as 564.12.

    7    O4 class 4-6-2, identity not confirmed but could be 564.33, last active in 1980. Preserved at Pekan, Pahang, as 564.34 Pekan.

    8    O4 class 4-6-2 564.36 Temerloh. Spent 13 years at Gemas before going to Batu Gajah workshops and then to Johore Museum.

    9    WD 2-8-2 - several of these are extant in Thailand (at least 1 preserved) and Cambodia, mostly derelict.

  10    A Hunslet 4-4-0T similar to the A/B class 4-4-0T and built in 1885 for the Valencia Tramway is preserved at Tortosa in Spain.


The links below give access to details and photographs of all the Steam locomotive types which operated on the FMSR and constituent lines up to the end of steam in the 1990s.



A & B classes

A class

C class

Burma E and O C class

D class

E class

F class

G class

H class

I class

J class

K class

K class

L class
M class O class P class Mallet
Q class

R class

S class

T class

WWII Sentinel WD class

Following are links to other pages on this site.

The Malayan Railway The 1960s Singapore Railways
1970s 1985 1995 1998 2000 2005
Singapore 1975 Singapore 1976 Singapore 1977 part 1 Singapore 1977 part 2 Singapore 1977 part 3 Singapore Trams
Singapore 2003 Singapore 2007 Singapore 2008
Malaysia 2008 Malaysia 2013  
Allan Stanistreet pictures Johore Wooden Railway Johore State Railway
Malacca State Railway Muar State Railway North Borneo Railway
Perak State Railway Selangor State Railway Sungei Ujong Railway

This page created 18th October 2010.

Last updated 25th November 2017.

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