5 October 2014

Underground, Overground

I wonder what the wombles (a 1970's UK children's TV show, for those unaware of them) would think of London's underground today? I imagine they wouldn't be that impressed; delays, engineering works, no air-con. But for all its faults I still think it should be celebrated. And this is coming from someone who has experienced commuting on the Piccadilly line and Metropolitan line everyday. Forever complaining that the train was late and the seats were uncomfortable, it's too hot etc etc. But having lived abroad and now using it every few weeks or so I have grown to love it once again, to celebrate its uniqueness, whatever it's faults. There is no other subway or underground system that can be  as iconic, could there?

When you travel to one of the worlds major metropolises the likelihood is that you will need to use their subway, metro or underground system. It becomes an essential part of the travel experience and for many the only way of getting around. They are all unique, all with their own brand of colours schemes, ways of operating, sounds and smells. And all should be celebrated and adored.  An example, New York's subway, dare I say it's a little grotty, all open planned with exposed lines. But that's what's great about it. It gives it its distinctiveness. As does Tokyo's with its perfect timing, the sound system accompanying an approaching train and the blandness of its walkways. London's underground though (for me) remains the one that encapsulates the experience the most. London without the underground would be like fish with its chips or clams without its chowder, they just have to be together. From its wonderful map, to its unique upholstery, the underground sign to its history. The way you can get across the capital using many different combinations; give it a go the next time you visit, add a little fizz to your visit. Choose an end point and see what different ways you can get there, perhaps split up if you're with someone and see who gets there the quickest. A new sport?

So that's the underground. I'm sure I will revisit it throughout the development of this blog and others whenever I visit them. So whatever country and whatever transport system perhaps we need to step back and re-look at them, try to find the cuteness within them and what makes them tick. So three cheers for the underground. Oh how dull travel would be without you!

Footnote
Would love to hear your own feelings towards any underground, subway or metro system. How are they for you?

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