The world's tubes compared

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  • 13 TBETS 3.jpg
    London © Susie Rea

    Claim to fame

    London

    The tube’s longevity makes for plenty of interesting historical facts. Gladstone and Dr Bernado are the only people who have ever had their coffins transported by tube, and Northfields station was the first in the world to use kestrels and hawks to kill pigeons in order to stop them setting up homes in the station.

    Tokyo

    Haruki Murakami’s ‘Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche’, a non-fiction account of the deadly Tokyo subway gas attack in 1995, features interviews with the survivors says as much about Japanese society as it did about the attack itself.


    Paris

    The Métro boasts miles of tunnels under the city, including former Roman quarries. In 2004 police discovered a cavern that had been converted into a restaurant and working cinema.

    New York

    In 1933, the ‘AA’ train operating between 207th Street and Hudson Terminal Two was taken out of service. The motorman taking the last train was heading for the depot. He was new to the job, got lost, parked it in the wrong depot, and went on holiday the next day. The train wasn’t discovered until 1940.

    Moscow

    According to legend, Soviet engineers approached Stalin in the ’30s to update him on plans for the Metro. The despot put his coffee cup down on the centre of the blueprints, then left in silence. The planners saw the brown circle the cup had left, and realised what they were missing: a ring line round the centre!

    Berlin

    The erecting of the Berlin Wall in 1961 made for a Cold War transport dilemma. The U-Bahn Line 2 was split into Eastern and Western sections, and the north-south lines ran through the so-called Geisterbahnhöfe (ghost stations) in East Berlin without stopping.

    Glasgow

    An alternative nickname supposedly given to the route in the ’50s was Sputnik, because it took the same time to navigate (actually 24 minutes to complete the circular route) as the Soviet satellite took to whizz round the Earth.

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