London Underground Vs Prague Metro

London Underground Vs Prague Metro

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Every time we're in a city with a metro system, we instinctively find ourselves comparing it to the London Underground. We love the London Underground (were the five stories we publish on it a week not enough of a giveaway?) but it's always worth checking out the competition.

This time, we're in Prague, which boasts a small but impressive network.

Size

Prague Metro Map. Image: Adam Sporka

As a great philosopher once said — possibly Plato? — 'size matters'. Prague is severely lacking in this department; it only has three lines compared to London's 11 (Prague does, after all, have a mere 1.3m inhabitants).

Prague's got a fourth line coming, but alas, the D line won't arrive until 2023 (insert your own joke about riding the D here). By that time London will have Crossrail, and although it technically won't be a tube line, it will outshine all other countries' subterranean transport achievements.

London wins

Cost

Perhaps the biggest London truism right now is how costly the city is. Prague is vastly less expensive, especially when it comes to beer, the drinking of which is a national pastime. By living in Prague you're already saving wads of pilsner money, despite drinking more of it, which leaves more to spend on transport. Except you won't need that either, as the transport is modestly priced too.

The machines used to validate the tickets on the metro. Photo: Jiří Caletka

A monthly zone 1-2 travelcard in London costs a precious £126.80. In Prague a monthly travelcard clocks in at roughly £23.37. Yes, the annual salary is roughly a third of London's, but in relative terms, getting around in Prague is still far cheaper. Plus, that monthly travelcard includes Prague's outer zones (well, they don't have zones but you see our point). We wonder: what's Prague's equivalent of Amersham...

Prague wins

Trains

The trains on the Prague Metro are fine. Nothing special. The most noticeable thing about them is that instead of two sets of seats facing each other, they do this weird two seats facing just one — it feels like a seat has been amputated — or that they've been set up for a moving job interview.

Inside the Prague Metro. Photo: Moldovia

The trains are a bit boxy compared to our curvaceous tube. There's not much variety in the trains either, a by-product of having so few lines. No popping moquette to speak of here. Sorry Prague, we're going to have to be honest: your trains are dull.

London wins

Stations

The absolute best thing about Prague's metro system are the designs that line the platforms. Clearly drawing inspiration from Daleks many of the walls and tunnels are dotted with coloured concave and convex hemispheres. Many a time we've stared at them after one too many Pilsner Urquells, trying to figure out which are concave and which are convex. Sounds easy, but isn't.

So Dalekian

London's platforms can be fantastic too, but they're equally as likely to let you down. For every wonderful Paolozzi design there are five more plain Jane stations.

There's another thing to point out about Prague's stations. Everyone knows about London's stations doubling up as bomb shelters during the Blitz, but would they make it through a nuclear attack? Some of Prague's stations could.

In a few of the stations there are huge round doors that can be hermetically sealed to protect from a nuclear blast on the surface or even a torrential wave of water. The whole system could shelter 300,000 for three days. Think about it. All that time down there with those Dalek hemispheres. How beautiful.

Oh yes, many of Prague's stations also have stalls hawking delicious (and naturally cheap) pizza by the slice.

Prague wins

History

London has the oldest underground system in the world, whereas Prague's hasn't even hit 50. Still Prague's metro was built during a fascinating time for history fanatics, when the country was under communist rule. The entire network still has that functional, brutal vibe surrounding it.

Image: Wikicommons

In fact, Prague attempted to do away with as many of these allusions as possible. 13 stations were renamed, in an attempt to distance them from their communist past, for example Dejvická was originally Leninova. Understandable for a nation attempting to recover from a traumatic part of its history, but still a bit disappointing for the historically-inclined tourist.

The London Underground is far prouder of its history, especially because of websites like ours, determined to dredge up every strange part of it we can find.

London wins

Final score: London 3 Prague 2

See also:

Disagree with us? Tell us why in the comments beneath and let us know where we should compare next.

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Last Updated 26 October 2017

Juno

You basically insert the History category in order to guarantee London an extra point, don't you, because London's always going to be the oldest. From a passenger's point of view it would made more sense to deduct a point for excessive history because the Piccadilly line rolling stock is so ancient.that Charles Yerkes probably built them all by hand.

Andy Flaster

You completely failed to include the fact that the Prague Metro runs on time all the time. There are no excuses like signal failures, evening out the service, lack of a driver etc. It just works. You can set your clock by it. As for boxy, perhaps but the trains are roomy and never feel over crowded. In addition, people actually have some manners. They don't elbow people out of the way to get a seat. They don't crowd the doors trying to get on first before the people on the train have even gotten off. I lived in Prague for 12 years before moving to London. Prague Metro 8, London Underground 2.

Jude Mayes

London should gain another point, the frequency of the trains in Prague is not very good. I had to wait 8 minutes because i just missed a train on the way to the airport.

Richard

Doesn't customer satisfaction, or pleasantness of travel get a point? The London Underground is so horribly overcrowded that taking the morning ride to work usually comes with the expectation that you'll be crammed onto one of those little trains with someone's elbow in your face and someone else's briefcase jammed behind your knees. Not so on the Prague Metro, even in the most crowded trains in an average day!

Kieran Benedikt Flynn

Try using a contemporary map. The 'A' line has four more stations. The extension to the 'C' line is complete. Most stations have excellent connexions to tram and bus services.