18 Little-Known Facts About Subways From Around The World

Whether you live in a major city or you’re visiting for the first time, chances are you’ve utilized the area’s subway or train transit system at one point or another. Travel down the stairs or maybe up an elevator to the platform, board a train, and a take a ride to just about anywhere in the city.

Each country uses similar systems and technologies to shuttle all its people where they want to go as efficiently as possible — but that doesn’t mean each subway system doesn’t have its own hidden systems of secrets and gems…

1. Stockholm (Sweden): One of the most beautiful subway systems in the world is the Stockholm Metro. The network opened in 1950, and 90 of the 100 stations are adorned with statues and paintings. Each station is totally unique. 

Wander the Map

2. Athens (Greece): The Athens Metro consists of three lines and a total of 61 stations. When engineers were excavating the areas where they wanted to build the metro, they discovered a ton of archaeological artifacts!

Archaeology Travel

3. Singapore (Republic of Singapore): Like many things in Singapore, their metro system is modern, clean, and efficient. The Singapore subway is extremely energy efficient and is active in helping reduce the region’s carbon footprint. Additionally, the tunnels are equipped with cell service and double as bomb shelters.

Citi IO

4. Dubai (United Arab Emirates): The subway cars on this system are driverless. There are currently only two different lines, the Red and Green, both of which opened in 2009. The cars are separated into sections Gold (first class), Women and children, and standard. 

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5. New York, New York (United States): The first public transit system in the city was a 12-seat stagecoach also known as “Accommodation.” It wasn’t until 1904 that the first subway system debuted — the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). It covered 9.1 miles with 28 different stations.

National Archives

More than 100 years later, the New York City subway system is one of the most extensive subway systems in the world. It features 472 different stations across 27 lines within four different boroughs. It’s also one of few systems to run service 24/7.

Times of Israel

6. Cairo (Egypt): There are only two cities in Africa that have underground subway systems, and Cairo’s one of them. The Metro Cairo opened in 1990 and consists of just two lines. There are plans to create two more to help accommodate the 500 million people who use the subway annually. 

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7. Beijing (China): This bustling city holds the world’s second-longest subway system. Construction started in the ’60s and trains opened for use in 1969. There are a total of 20 different lines, which span 380 miles. 

8. Santiago (Chile): This city offers South America’s most extensive subway system. The Santiago Metro currently has 73 miles of tracks and, as of 2018, is scheduled to get an additional 20 miles installed.

Wikimedia Commons

9. Tokyo (Japan): Two separate entities run Japan’s subway systems. The Tokyo Metro is owned and operated by a private holder and consists of nine lines. The public Toei Subway is owned and operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. They aren’t fully connected, but you can use a prepaid card to transfer between stations.

10. Mexico City (Mexico): The Greater Mexico City area didn’t have a form of fast transit until the 1960s. This system now has 12 lines (the twelfth of which opened in 2012), and about four million people ride the subway per day.

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11. London (United Kingdom): The underground train system, commonly known as “the Tube,” is the world’s oldest subway system. Underground trains have been running since as early as 1863 along the Metropolitan Railway.

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The first electric Tube line wasn’t operational until 1890. Today, about 1.35 billion passengers ride the tube each year from one of the 270 stations throughout the city.

12. Delhi (India): As of 2018, this subway system was fairly new, as the Delhi Metro didn’t open until 2002. The system has 160 different stations that are located at elevated or ground-level locations. On each train, the first car is reserved for female passengers only.

The Gori Details

13. Chicago, Illinois (United States):  Built in 1897, the “L” in Chicago is the oldest rapid-transit system. Today, the whole network — which services about  238 million per year — is a combination of elevated, subway, and ground-level segments.


14. Moscow (Russia): The Stalinist-era design of this subway system — which is the busiest rail system in the world — boasts marble walls, chandeliers, and mosaics. The 200-station subway system transports about nine million people per day.

15. Istanbul (Turkey): The first underground transit system, the Tünel began service in 1875. However, a modern subway system didn’t operate in the city until the light metro line in 1989, and a fully operational line wasn’t active until 2000.

16. Berlin (Germany): In Germany, people use two different rail systems: the U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn, “underground railway”) and the S-Bahn (Stadtschnellbahn, “city rapid railway”). The U-Bahn opened in 1902, while the S-Bahn didn’t open until 1924. The U-Bahn alone spans about 90 miles with 10 lines that service 173 stations.

Metro Report

17. Toronto (Canada): The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) opened Canada’s first ever subway line in 1954. That one line had 12 stations. Today, Toronto has four different lines and 75 stations throughout the city.

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18. Paris (France): The Métro is the second-busiest subway system in the world. The system itself has 16 different lines with around 300 different subway stations. It opened in 1900 at the same time as the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair).

Remy De La Mauviniere

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