Tales from the Underground

June 17, 2014 4:24 pm

undergroundTubes, subways, metros, trains, trams…transport anecdotes, curiosities and diverse passengers all over the world. They also somehow portray the singular identity of the cities they cross; this is why it is so important to remark the cultural differences every city has, when travelling by these public transportations. The Business Insider published a “summer travel season guide of specifically subway dos and don’ts” for five European major cities. Definitely worth checking for summer vacations!

While Londoners call it the ‘Tube’, it is true that this very popular mode of transportation goes by many names in different countries. The terminology of either subway or metro systems has developed as a result of people’s cultural makeup, and indeed this makes investigating this topic very interesting.

See below for some general metro terminology:
London Underground Glossary
NYC Subway Terminology Glossary

Surfing the Net, we also collected some interesting facts and curiosities about metro lines across the world that might interest you. There you go!

1. The shortest distance between two adjacent stations on the London tube network is only 260 metres. It actually takes only about 20 seconds to go from Leicester Square and Covent Garden on the Picadilly Line; but still it costs £4.30 and it is still one of the most popular journeys for tourists.

2. The M4 line of the Istanbul Metro runs through the Marmaray tunnel, that is, you can travel between two continents without getting off the subway.

3. Wuppertal (Germany) has the oldest electric suspended monorail system in the world (see below). Classic German engineering, they would say.

Exif JPEG4. The citizens of Adelaide (Australia) travel on “train-buses”. How’s that possible? Buses of Adelaide run on special rail-tracks but can still drive on the road. Apparently more than a few people tried to drive their own cars on the O-Bahn Busway.

5. Glasgow students go on “sub-crawls” (subway pub-crawls) on their nights out. They basically stop in every station and have a drink in the nearest pub as fast as possible, to go back to the subway once and again… Would you be able to finish the circle line of 15 stops in good condition?

6. The city of Lausanne has around 336,000 inhabitants and this makes Lausanne the least populated city in the world that has a metro system.

7. Barcelona apparently has 12 ghost stations on its metro network. Those stations have been closed or demolished for diverse reasons but the ruins still remain. Scary?

8. The most recent Argentinian metro line was opened in 2007 in Buenos Aires. The ‘ granddad’ of the Amarillo (that’s the name of the line) still uses the original subway cars, which are almost 100 years old.

9. The metro station Talismán in Mexico City. has a mammoth as its image because remains of a Mamuthus Archidiskodon were found during the construction of the station.

10. For many years women working in the Madrid’s metro had to be single, due to the dedication their job required. Once married, these women were immediately fired.

11. Japanese people are known to be silent and calm. This quietness is taken to the extreme on the Tokyo subways where speaking on the phone seems to be prohibited and everyone obeys.

12. In the circular line of Moscow, the voice that announces the stops is masculine when travelling clockwise, but feminine on the other direction. In the rest of the lines, they use the masculine voice when getting closer to the centre and the feminine when going further.

Luxembourg City is planning to have a tram by 2020… Do you think that this kind of unwritten laws will also be present in the capital? We can’t wait to hop on and discover the where the tram can lead us, in all senses!

More in:
Transit Curiosities
New York’s subway etiquette


By Jurdana Martin Retegi, student of the MA Learning & Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. Study visitor at TermCoord.

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