Here are the most annoying station names on the Singapore MRT network

Yishun station in Singapore. Image: Getty.

Editor’s note: On Twitter, after publishing yet another rant about London station names, I noted that I would be delighted to publish similar rants about other cities, if only anyone thought to send them to me. Here’s one now.

one-north

This station, named after a neighbouring business park, is the only station on the whole network to have a name which starts with an uncapitalised letter (and also the only one with a hyphen in its name).

Every time I see this station on the map, I get annoyed because I think that someone has made a typo. Then I remember that this is the station’s correct name and I sigh.

HarbourFront

This one’s located underneath HarbourFront Centre, which is on Harbourfront Place. Unfortunately, the station takes after the shopping centre rather than the street name, leaving yet another station with inappropriate capitalisation in its name.

Farrer Park and Farrer Road

These two stations sound they should be right next to each other: they sound so similar!

The MRT system map. Click to expand.

Unfortunately, they are about 6.6km apart, with Farrer Park being located in the fairly central district of Little India, and Farrer Road lying in the middle of an upmarket suburb. These two stations are not even on the same MRT line.

The similarity of the two names have gotten many people confused, and unfortunately for anyone who has made the mistake of going to the wrong one, it’s a 25 minute journey between the two.

Downtown

This station’s name implies that it is in the heart of Singapore’s central business district, which is slightly misleading. One of its exits literally opens out into an empty patch of grass, which is not something one usually finds in the heart of a city.

The actual “downtown” area can be found around Raffles Place, a neighbouring station about 8 minutes’ walk away.


Jurong East

There is no Jurong West station, unfortunately. The suburb of Jurong West is served by three MRT stations (Lakeside, Boon Lay and Pioneer) but it feels like a missed opportunity that none of them have been named in such a way to serve as a complement to their neighbouring station in the east.

This is especially evident when you look at the suburb of Tampines, whose three stations (Tampines, Tampines West and Tampines East) form a satisfying trio.

Beauty World

The name of this station is evocative, leading one to imagine vibrantly coloured wildflowers blooming in green meadows just lying in wait right outside.

Once you step out of the exit however, there is not much beauty in sight. This station is located in a distant suburban neighbourhood best known for its 24-hour restaurants, and is named for an amusement park which once stood in the vicinity but is no longer there, having been replaced by 70’s-era concrete block towers.

Cashew

It is a bit difficult to take a station seriously when it’s named after a nut.

In its defence, it’s actually named for Cashew Road, and is located in a neighbourhood where all the other streets are also named after nuts. They include Hazel Park Terrace, Chestnut Close and Almond Avenue.

Image: Open Street Map.

Stadium

This one is a little vague, as there are two stadiums located in the vicinity of the station (the National Stadium and Singapore Indoor Stadium), and it is not exactly clear which of these the station is named after. Furthermore, it seems to imply that there is only one stadium in the whole country, which is not the case. Perhaps a better name for this station would be National Stadium, which would solve both of these issues at one go.

Tuas Link

Many stations are named after nearby roads, which is a perfectly acceptable (if a little unoriginal) naming method. However, in this case, there isn’t an actual road called Tuas Link.

There is a Tuas Link 1, along with Tuas Link 2, 3 and 4. But no Tuas Link, which is frankly unacceptable and needs to be rectified immediately.

Image: Open Street Map.

Lavender

As with Beauty World, one almost expects to exit this station and be greeted by fields of aromatic purple flowers. No such luck. The only thing worth sniffing around for in this area is the Michelin-starred food stall selling delicious minced meat noodles in a soy-and-vinegar based sauce.

If you would like to complain about the names of stations in your city, you know where we are.

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Leeds is still haunted by its pledge to be the “Motorway City of the Seventies”

Oh, Leeds. Image: mtaylor848/Wikimedia Commons.

As the local tourist board will no doubt tell you, Leeds has much to be proud of: grandiose industrial architecture in the form of faux-Egyptian temples and Italian bell-towers; an enduring cultural legacy as the birthplace of Goth, and… motorways. But stand above the A58(M) – the first “urban motorway”  in the country – and you might struggle to pinpoint its tourist appeal.

Back in the 1970s, though, the city council was sufficiently gripped by the majesty of the motorways to make them a part of its branding. Letters sent from Leeds were stamped with a postmark proudly proclaiming the city's modernity: “Leeds, Motorway City of the Seventies”.

Image: public domain.

During the 1960s, post-war optimism and an appetite for grand civic projects saw the rapid construction of motorways across England. The construction of the M1 began in 1959; it reached Leeds, its final destination, in 1968. By the early 1970s the M62 was sweeping across Pennines, and the M621 loop was constructed to link it to Leeds city centre.

Not content with being the meeting point of two major motorways, Leeds was also the first UK city to construct a motorway through the city centre: the inner ring road, which incorporates the short motorway stretches of the A58(M) and the A64(M). As the council put it in 1971, “Leeds is surging forward into the Seventies”.

The driving force behind Leeds' love of motorways was a mix of civic pride and utopian city planning. Like many industrial cities in the North and Midlands, Leeds experienced a decline in traditional manufacturing during the 1960s. Its position at the centre of two major motorways seemed to offer a brighter future as a dynamic city open for trade, with the infrastructure to match. In response to the expansion of the roads, 1970s council planners also constructed an elevated pedestrian “skywalk” in an attempt to free up space for cars at ground level. Photos of Leeds from that time show a thin, white walkway running through blocky office buildings – perhaps not quite as extensive as the futuristic urban landscape originally envisaged by planners, but certainly a visual break with the past.

Fast forward to 2019 and Leeds’ efforts to become a “Motorway City” seems like a kitsch curiosity from a decade that was not always known for sustainable planning decisions. Leeds’s historic deference to the car has serious consequences in the present: in February 2019, Neville Street – a busy tunnel that cuts under Leeds station – was found to contain the highest levels of NO2 outside London.

City centre planners did at least have the foresight to sink stretches of the inner motorways below street level, leaving pedestrian routes largely undisturbed. Just outside the centre, though, the roads can be more disruptive. Sheepscar Interchange is a bewildering tangle of arterial roads, Armley Gyratory strikes fear into the hearts of learner drivers, and the M621 carves unsympathetically through inner-city areas of South Leeds with pedestrian access restricted to narrow bridges that heighten the sense of a fragmented landscape.

 

Leeds inner ring road in its cutting. Image: author provided.

 

The greatest problem for Yorkshire's “Motorway City” in 2019, however, is not the occasional intimidating junction, but the complete lack of an alternative to car travel. The dire state of public transport in Leeds has already been raised on these pages. In the early 20th century Leeds had one of the most extensive tram networks in the country. The last lines closed in 1959, the same year construction began on the A58m.


The short-sightedness of this decision was already recognised in the 1970s, as traffic began to build. Yet plans for a Leeds Supertram were rejected by successive Conservative and Labour governments unwilling to front the cost, even though smaller cities such as Newcastle and Sheffield were granted funding for light transport systems. Today, Leeds is the largest city in the EU without a mass transit system. As well as creating congestion, the lack of viable public transport options prevents connectivity: the city's bus network is reasonable, but weaker from East to West than North to South. As a non-driver, I've turned down jobs a short drive away that would be a logistical impossibility without a car.

Leeds' early enthusiasm for the motorway was perhaps premature, but there are things we can learn from the 1970s. Whatever else can be said about it, Leeds' city transport strategy was certainly bold – a quality in short supply today, after proposals for the supertram were watered down to a trolleybus system before being scrapped altogether in 2016. Leeds' rapid transformation in the 1960s and 70s, its grandiose visions of skywalks and dual carriageways, were driven by strong local political will. Today, the long-term transport strategy documents on Leeds City Council's website say more about HS2 than the need for a mass transit system within Leeds itself, and the council has been accused of giving up the fight for light rail and trams.

Whilst central government's refusal to grant funds is the greatest obstacle to Leeds' development, the local authority needs to be far more vocal in demanding the transport system the city deserves. Leeds' desire to be the Motorway City of the Seventies might look ludicrous today, but the political drive and utopian optimism that underpinned it does not.