Like anywhere else in the world, you have to come to London with an open mind. It is a city that is old and new at the same time, and it is constantly evolving, and that is what makes this city so fascinating.
The current skyline is dominated by buildings of various nicknames: the gherkin, the walkie-talkie, the can of spam…. buildings that arouse the most inner love or hatred to those who live here, and buildings that will lead to what London is becoming in the near future. However, underneath all the modern facade is a network of transport that defines the city, that has made contributions to the development of public transport in the world, and successfully done so simply by just being there.
And the iconic Tube celebrated its 150 years birthday last year in 2013.
You can say that the world owes most of its underground public transport systems to London. The Tube, or the Underground, is the world’s first underground railway. It stretches across this city and its bordering counties with 270 stations covering 402 kilometers of rail tracks. Since its opening in 1863, the tube has evolved into one of the most extensive (unfortunately not the most sophisticated,due to its old age) public train network in the world.
Last year, it carried over 1 billion people, to and from work, meeting friends, eating out and simply just being out and about.
I bought myself an Oyster Card (have you noticed something? In Hong Kong, they call it the Octopus Card, and in Sydney they call it the Opal Card. What’s with the O?) and enjoyed a whole day of Tube hopping. With the clickady-clacks of the rails the tube took me from Heathrow to the centre of London, (and back), to the South West and then to the North East.
The importance of the tube goes beyond railway history. The tube itself has become a tourist attraction. You don’t go to Paris and tell visitors they must take a ride on the Metro (although, a cruise on the Seine is a must at night time), and you don’t ask tourists to take photos next to the Sydney Transport logo.
However, when it London, getting on the tube is worth writing home about, and the blue Underground line across the red circle is probably the most photographed public transport sign in the world.