We Think We Just Created The Dream Tube Network

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 31 months ago
We Think We Just Created The Dream Tube Network

If you were tasked with building an underground network from scratch, which bits of metros from around the world would you borrow from? Here's our choice, including mini museums, 5g coverage, and cheap pizza.

Moscow's artwork

Stained glass at Novoslobodskaya in Moscow. No, we don't know how we're paying for this imaginary tube network of ours. Image: Londonist

It's true that Moscow's palatial metro system was overseen by a ruthless dictator and built as one sprawling statement of Soviet propaganda (which also happened to have trains). That aside, you can't deny its eye-aching beauty. We'll take the gleaming marble floors, Baroque wedding cake ceilings laden with splendiferous chandeliers, and stained glass arches. Might just dial down the hammer and sickles a bit.

Sicily's simple map

If you reach Marble Arch you've gone too far

Map-wise we're taking our cue from the world's smallest metro system, the Metropolitana di Catania in Sicily. You won't get lost on our tube network.

London's moquette seats

Don't mind if we do. Image: TfL

No one's suffering from a numb bum on this fantasy tube network of ours, because we're using London Underground's squidgy, durable — and eminently marketable — moquette. Actually, THAT'S how we're funding this underground system: a gift shop flogging moquette themed bow ties and egg cups.

Seoul's in-journey entertainment

Now all we need to do is learn Korean. Image: gumption in Creative Commons

Squinting to watch BBC Breakfast/the footy highlights on your tiny phone screen on the morning commute? Not on our trains. We're copying Seoul's train carriages, which broadcast news and sports on big screens above your head. Back of the net.

Athens' on-platform museums

What, this? Oh just some ancient Greek art on the train platform. Image: European Mobility Week in Creative Commons

When digging a metro system beneath 3,000-year-old Athens, a slew of ancient artefacts was unearthed — including ionic columns, mosaic floors and the bones of a horse which drowned in a flood. These, and many more objects are on display in mini museums dotted around various Athens stations. After ploughing up our network, we'll put a museum in every station, showcasing everything from bronze age burial grounds to marginally vintage cans of Dr Pepper.

Pyongyang's prices

Pyongyang's tube system is almost as cheap as London's was back when the 'Twopenny Tube' opened in 1900. Image: (stephan) in Creative Commons

According to Koryo Tours, a ride beneath the streets of the North Korean capital costs around five Korean Won — that's just over 3p, and around 80 times cheaper that a zone 1-2 single in London. We really are going to have to shift some novelty moquette products, aren't we.

Tokyo's option of women-only carriages

Rather good idea, this. Image: blogefl in Creative Commons

Metros the world over are, unfortunately, a hotspot for unwanted attention and sexual abuse. Women-only carriages have been a thing on Japanese trains for a century, and on Tokyo's modern day metro, they're offered at busy times of the day, creating a safe commuting space. It's a controversial subject — does it normalise the danger of assault in mixed spaces? Does it put the onus on women to remove themselves from danger, rather than society to take action to make all all carriages safe spaces for all people?  — but many other metros offer a similar thing, and it seems a sensible option to have.

Paris' art nouveau signage

Mais oui. Image: Sune Rievers in Creative Commons

The perfect metro signage should lure passengers in from surface level with promises of a subterranean wonderland below. Hector Guimard's art nouveau entrances on the Paris metro do that in spades — sprouting and twisting out of the ground like something out of a Tim Burton film. It's pure enchantment. Soz, roundels.

Beijing's 5g coverage

Beijingers already enjoy 5g signal coverage across an entire line. It's not fair. Image: pamhule in Creative Commons

In 2019, Beijing's was the first underground transport network to achieve full 5g signal coverage across an entire line. Within a few years it's (hopefully) going to be tough to imagine many metro networks without it — that includes London too. Actually, we've just decided our network's going to have comprehensive 6g coverage. So there.

Barcelona's, Hong Kong's, Shanghai's, etc air conditioning

Barcelona's metro is so well air conditioned, you may have to fold your arms to stay warm. Image: Sparkes in Creative Commons

Like universal internet access, air con is a no-brainer really. I mean, imagine having a tube network that's not fully air conditioned. IMAGINE.

Dubai's 'Gold Class' section

Image: transitpeople in Creative Commons

Hmm. Actually, do we like the fact Dubai's richest passengers can fork out double to ride 'Gold Class'? Especially as it's patently BLUE. Nah, scrap that. Our underground network's going to be egalitarian.

New York City's festive specials

Forget the Rockefeller Christmas tree — surely the coolest festive NYC tradition is the running of vintage metro trains. (Who wouldn't want to be transported back to 1930s New York?). London, of course, runs heritage services on the tube from time to time, but one major difference is the cost: you can access NYC's vintage specials for the price of your usual ride. Aces!

Prague's pizza vendors

Image: Georgio in Creative Commons

Yes, we'll have plenty of wacky vending machines on our network, doling out everything from bananas to whisky. But we're also nicking Prague's idea of pizza vendors perched on station concourses. A whopping slice of quattro formaggi or salami is yours for about a quid. That's your breakfast and dinner sorted, anyway.

Los Angeles' accessibility

Los Angeles metro, accessible train doors and all. Image: mark.hogan in Creative Commons

Every station on every line of the Los Angeles metro is accessible to wheelchair users. That's certainly easier to achieve when your network is just 30 years old — and seeing as ours is brand spanking new, we've got no excuses.

Newcastle's metro that goes to the beach

If your metro system had the option of a direct trip to the beach, you'd end up in the pub far less — maybe by two, even three, times a year?

Some of you might have something to say about all this. Tell us how you'd create your own perfect tube network, in the comments below.

Last Updated 28 July 2021