additions for places not already covered in previous
Finland: The Helsinki Metro is based on designs completed in
the 1970s and looks like it. Stations are utilitarian
and made from concrete, while the trains are orange boxes.
But it's fast, efficient, and tolerably clean.
It has exactly one line
starting from Ruoholahti, going through the city center,
forking at Itäkeskus (Scandinavia's largest shopping mall!)
and terminating at Mellunmäki and Vuosaari
Sweden: The Stockholm subway, or Tunnelbana ("Tunnel Track"),
three lines constructed between 1950 and 1994. All three
lines join at T-Centralen, smack dab in the middle of the
green and red lines are pretty utilitarian, but the
blue line stations are filled with all sorts of
weird and wonderful art and has thus been dubbed
"the world's longest art exhibition". Part of the
funkiness are the stations themselves, which incorporate
the raw cavern walls blasted out of rock instead of just
covering them up with concrete.
Norway: The Oslo subway has no less than 5 lines serving all of
500,000 people, making it probably the most over-subwayed
city on the planet. The network was constructed essentially
by digging one tunnel through the center and piping suburban
lines into it, resulting in a rather awkward map.
Denmark: Despite being the largest city in Scandinavia,
Copenhagen has no subway network at all, although the
suburban train network plays a similar role. This is about
to be remedied though, as the first segment of Copenhagen's
first subway line
will be was opened in October 2002.
Germany: Berlin has an extensive subway network of no less than 9
lines, dubbed the
U-Bahn in German. Divided in two during the Cold War,
the two halves have since been patched together and
detecting the former border is getting harder day by day.
As you might expect, everything works with German efficiency.
Italy: Rome has two subway lines and a third under construction.
The system has a pretty bad rep for overcrowding, dirtiness
and thieves, although I didn't find it particularly bad.
In an effort to up ridership, two years ago
McDonalds was running a campaign
to give discounted hamburgers to anybody who brought in
a used metro ticket.
Hungary: Budapest's first metro line (földalatti)
was completed in 1896, making it the first subway in
continental Europe. (It was recently restored to its
former glory for its centennial.)
Two more lines were added by the
Communists, but the construction of the sorely-needed and
line from Keleti to southern Buda remained embroiled
in a quagmire of lawsuits and financial problems.
Russia: St. Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad, has a
Soviet-designed subway system that is many ways quite an
achievement. As the entire city is built on a bog,
the tunnels had to be dug quite deep, and having to ford
a number of rivers and canals along the way didn't make
life easier. There are currently 4 lines and a fifth
under construction. A few odd details: all stations
have doors between the platforms and the trains (not to
prevent suicides, but to allow time to escape if the
tunnel roof springs a leak!), and the displays count
time up from the previous train departure.
Intervals may be as little as 30 seconds at rush hour.
Russia: Moscow has more of the same, only bigger and better
with chandeliers in some of the main stations and
no less than 11 lines in operation.
Egypt: The Cairo subway is the only one on the entire
African continent. Line 1 from Helwan to El-Marg
used the Oslo approach by building a tunnel between
two commuter trains and calling the result a subway.
Line 2, from Shobra to Giza (read: the Pyramids),
was built from scratch, and a line 3 is and probably
will remain on the drawing board. The three
intersections of the lines are dubbed, predictably
Sadat and Nasser.
The system is
tolerably clean and navigation is a charm compared
to most alternatives, but the ticket sellers will
happily rip off khawagas who can't decipher the
Arabic-only fare tables. Then again, with tickets
clocking in at 50-80 piasters ($0.10-0.15), most tourists
will never notice the missing 20 pt... although, come
to think of it, most tourists will use taxis and never
notice that they're being charged triple. Inshallah.
Turkey: Istanbul -- whose subway system is entirely on the
Asian side at time of writing -- has Asia's oldest
subway (1875), the 2-station and 500-meter funicular dubbed the Tünel,
which climbs up a hillside from Karaköy to Galata.
Partly open but still under construction is Istanbul's
first "real" metro, which currently stretches from
Levent to Taksim (the center of modern Istanbul) and
is being extended across the Golden Horn to the
European shore and the old city.
Japan: The Tokyo subway system is nothing short of amazing on
any scale, see sekicho's writeup for details. One
telling anecdote: during 5 years of residence in the
city, I've had to use a bus once, and I later realized
that the subway station recently constructed in the vicinity
was just missing from my old map. Also note that, in
those same 5 years, I have never seen or felt a pusher:
they do exist, but are only around if you're at the wrong
station going on the wrong line in the wrong direction
at the wrong time. (Shinjuku, Marunouchi, south and
8 AM should do the trick.)
References and Fun Browsing
http://www.metropla.net not only has a punny URL but
gobs of info on every single subway, monorail and LRT
on the planet. Check it out!