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World's largest metro systems (part 1)
Tokyo metro May 9, 2009

Metro is the king of public transport for more than 140 years - people still have not invented a better way of urban transportation. Metro is another dimension of a city, it's like a whole separate world which is so emotionally saturated and with so great cinematic quality that many movie makers chooses it as a background of their films scenes. No doubt - metro is the place with special character. But which metro systems of the world are the most important, depending on factors like amount of passengers, network length, architecture, etc.? Have tried to summarize the facts and my little personal experience in this article.

So, which city has the most heavily used metro system in the world? Well, you probably guessed the right answer - it's the city with largest population of the world, Tokyo. Every year Tokyo metro carries around 3 billion passengers, which actually doesn't sound so much compared to closest followers and bearing in mind "horror" views of absolutely cluttered up Tokyo metro trains seen in documental films. The second weighted metro system of the world - Moscow has only about 500 millions less passengers per year and it's really quite a mystery, because Moscow population (~10,5 mio) is 3 times smaller than Tokyo population. Probably it's the undeveloped street infrastructure and poverty which forces Moscowians to use metro so actively . In the peak hours, Moscow metro trains stops at stations about every 90 seconds. There is another surprising fact about Moscow metro - although the trains doesn't look very modern (judging just by pictures though), they are fastest of the world with speed of 120 km/h. Moscow metro is famous for it's incredible architecture - while in other cities metro has been built following almost only functional reasons, Soviet time Russia considered metro (just like those Moscow Stalinist skyscrapers of 50ies) as a question of honor and it become a showoff to Western powers. In the result, it really is the most beautiful metro in the world and it will stay that way because it's very unlikely that in nowadays someone could be willing to invest in expensive architecture of metro.

Moscow metroOn the contrast, Tokyo metro stations looks completely simple and functional - with white tiled floors it resembles more hospital than palace. Moscow metro belongs to world's longest subway systems as well - with it's total length of 292 km it holds 5th place in this facet. Moscow metro is interesting also with it's network structure - a big completely round circle line which links all other radial lines - schematically it looks like a big spider. Tokyo metro network is much more complicated and it's no surprise that people say it's difficult to use it. Good traits of Tokyo metro is it's cleanness, punctuality and many modern technological features as you could expect from Japan - for example, the seats are heated.

However, if we want to talk about the metro of all metros, we had to move from "The Land of The Rising Sun" to good old "Empire where the Sun never set". Of course, not today, but at the time when the first metro was built, it was the British Empire... (to be continued) 
Top 10 World's longest metro systems
City Km length
1. London 408
2. New York 369
3. Berlin 331
4. Madrid 294
5. Moscow 292
6. Seoul 287
7. Shanghai 234
8. Paris 214
9. Mexico City 201
10. Beijing 200

In the upper left picture: Tokyo metro, picture by Wikimedia Commons
In the lower right picture: Moscow metro, picture by Wikimedia Commons

© Ikars Kublins (e-mail: ikarskublins@gmail.com)