The incentive for this post reminiscing about my travels on underground trains. Came about as a good friend recently took her young daughters on their first underground train ride to visit downtown Toronto. The young travelers were so excited about their first trip. Traveling on a underground train. I can also relate to their excitement! It is fun to be young. The challenge in life from my perspective. Is to keep the spirit and enthusiasm of a child alive within you. That way you will enjoy your journey through life, all the way!
This post will present and recount in chronological order. My experiences of my underground train travels. It will also give you some history and the logistics of these underground trains systems. With the hope that you also will have the chance to visit these great cities.
Montreal Metro 1967
During the year 1967. I was only 8 years of age. It was an exciting year. As the World's Fair was being held in Montreal. Expo 67 was an awesome experience. As my mother arranged to take my brother and I on this adventure. A good friend from Maple and his mother also were on the trip. It was along time ago. But like any fascinating or enjoyable trip. The memories of the experience live on. The trip I recall was only a 3 day weekend. We took the bus to Montreal. We used there brand new Metro System to get us from our hotel to the Expo 67 site. The Montreal Underground train system remains one of the best rapid transit systems in North America. Certainly as an enthusiastic 8 year old. I was impressed with the rubber tires used on the Montreal Trains. Which are still in use today. The rubber wheels create a quieter and smoother ride.
Began operation October 14, 1966
System length 69.2 km (43.00 mi)
Top speed 72 km/h (45 mph)
Number of lines 4
Number of stations 68
During my first experience visiting Europe. I went on a 1 month adventure during the summer of 1986. The trip was designed to see as much of Switzerland as possible. This trip represented my first time staying in hostels travelling solo. The hosteling system has financially allowed people who are not wealthy. A chance to enjoy exploring our world! I completed a 3 day excursion from Switzerland. As I went to visit the city of Salzburg Austria. From Salzburg I then traveled to Munich, Germany. So I could go on a tour of the infamous Dauchau Concentration Camp. Dauchau was opened in 1933. As soon as the Nazi Government under Adolf Hitler seized power. Dauchau is located just outside of Munich. The public transit system located in Munich is state of the art. As there "U" Bahn underground system is totally coordinated with the German train and commuter train systems. Which you can use to travel; all over Munich, around Germany, or travel to another European country. The U-Bahn also allows commuters to travel to any of the suburbs that lie around Munich. It is very easy to transfer between the 3 systems. That is why. During a European trip. Renting a car is usually unnecessary. Because the public rapid transit systems are so efficient.
Number of lines 6
Number of stations 100
Began operation 19 October 1971
System length 103.1 km (64.1 mi)
During the winter of 1991. I did a exciting 2 week vacation back to Europe. I traveled to the max! The itinerary was; Toronto to NYC, to Iceland to Luxembourg, then by train and car to The Netherlands. Then I visited the cities of; Amsterdam, Brugge, Ghent, Antwerp, and Paris. Then on the return home. I flew back to Iceland from Luxembourg. Then spent 3 days in Reykjavik Iceland before returning back to NYC. Then flying back to Toronto the following day. I am now tired just writing about this trip. But it really was an amazing time!
During this vacation I got use two of the great and world famous underground train systems. On this post I will feature the historic Paris Metro. Which began operation in 1900. The Paris Metro is an amazing rapid transit system. Which is a combination of preserved history and modern technology. This system will get you anywhere you want to go. While you are living in Paris. Just like the Montreal Metro. The Paris Underground uses rubber wheels on 7 of the Metro lines. The remaining 9 lines run on conventional steel wheels and track. Also I can remember busker's coming right on the trains to perform. Which is a unique part of the Paris Metro.
Number of lines 16 (numbered 1-14, 3bis and 7bis)
Number of stations 301
Began operation 19 July 1900
System length 214 km (133 mi)
NYC Subway 1991
The last full day of this trip in 1991. Was a day to remember! The day started with a organized city tour of Reykjavik, Iceland. On this tour I met and became friends with Harvey B. and his wife Silvia. As luck would have it. I wound up on the same "Icelandair" flight back to New York City, with the Harvey and Sylvia. After we arrived back in the city. The Ballabons were happy to show me around Manhattan. To make the most of the last day of our vacation. Also to enjoy the time we would get to spend together.
After we dropped off our luggage at the Ballabons' apartment. We set out on an express Subway Train bound for Greenwich Village. It was a thrilling ride to say the least! All of the times I had watched the NYC Subway in movies and on T.V. Now I was living it for real. The N.Y.C Subway is dirty, noisy, and has unattractive stations. But is a very unique and extensive rapid transit system. Also getting to use the "Express Train" service. Just to explain. Express Trains do not stop at every station. The trains only stop at major stations where you can transfer to another line on the system. The New York City Subway. Is the only subterranean train system that offers express service. It took a good 45 minutes to arrive in Greenwich Village.
We enjoyed eating some amazing falafels. As Harvey who is a native to New York City. Took us to his favorite place for enjoying this vegetation delight! After the tasty snack. We then ventured to Rockefeller Center. To enjoy the sights. Then it was back on a subway train. To travel back to the Ballabons' apartment located in Queens. We got very little sleep that day. But what a day it was!!!!!
The New York City Subway System is the largest in the world! The NYC Subway runs 24 hours per day.
Number of lines 34 physical lines
Number of stations 468 (the MTA classification)
421 (when compared to international standards)
4 under construction
Began operation October 27, 1904
(first section of subway)
System length 209 mi (337 km)
656 mi (1,056 km)
(track length, revenue)
842 mi (1,355 km)
(track length, total)
London Underground 1998
This trip was an extra special one for me. I had the chance to visit the birth city and country of my mom's dad, my grandfather. Also it was my first major vacation since becoming a postal worker in 1994. The trip was a 2 week whirlwind adventure of England. The last 3 days of this trip were enjoyed in London! An exciting part of my time in London. Was getting the chance to experience riding the "Tube". Which is the affectionate name locals and tourists alike use to refer to the London Underground. My home station on this trip was the St. Paul's Station on the "Central Line". The London Underground which is the oldest rapid transit underground train system in the world. Which originally opened in January 10, 1863. The "Metropolitan Line" is the original line on the Underground System. Also the "Tube" was the first system to run electrified trains. On the "Northern Line", which began in 1890.
The "Tube" is a big part of the culture of enjoying London. You can easily get to anywhere in this huge major city. Also the tunnels in central London were built deep below the city. When you enter some of these stations you will have to take several escalators until you reach track level. The escalator rides going down. Gives you the impression that they will never end. The deepest tunnel on the "Tube" is the Hampstead Station which is 181 feet (55.2m) below street level. These deep tunnels were famous during the "Blitz". As countless lives were saved during the savage bombing of London during World War 2.
All the posted pictures. Are my photos I took during my experience riding the London "Tube" in 1998.
The Chicago "L" 2001
There was an exciting part of my life. That surrounds professional sports. I worked professionally in the Thoroughbred Horse Racing industry for 13 years. I was also a loyal and engaged fan of; hockey, basketball, football, and baseball.
Yes I was a suffering Cubs fan for many years. Being a fan of the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team. Meant being in love with there old historic ballpark named "Wrigley Field". I spent many hours watching and hoping the Cubs would win. Each and every game. Enjoying the charismatic call of the games. Of long time Cubs announcer Harry Carey. I use to dream ever summer. Hoping that one day. I would be a part of the scene of cheering for my Cubs. In the "Friendly Confines" of Wrigley Field. It was now the year 2001. I finally organized a trip to Chicago. To enjoy baseball the old fashion way. My pilgrimage to see Wrigley Field was set!
I flew to O'Hare Airport. From the airport it was a short walk to the "L" station. To get on a "Blue Line" train taking me to downtown Chicago. When the train neared downtown Chicago. The train I was traveling on. Then disappeared into a tunnel as we traveled underground to a downtown station. From there I changed to a "Red Line" train. Which would take me north to Fullerton Street. Leaving the downtown of Chicago. Our train was now airborne. As we were now "elevated". The train now traveling above ground on a extensive bridge. That is why the Chicago Rapid transit system has been nicknamed the "L". As a large portion of the "L". Runs above ground. It was a short walk to arrive at my hostel located in Lincoln Park. Which is one of the richest neighborhoods in Chicago. I was now only two "L" stops from the sacred grounds of Wrigley Field.
It was everything I had hoped for. Wrigley Field is a living time machine. Giving the fans a chance to enjoy a quality of life. That for the most part. Can only be enjoyed when you open a history book. Oh yes and the Cubs won both games I attended. The Saturday game was a one sided victory as the Cubs beat the Dodgers of L.A. 20 to 1. The Sunday game was close. The Cubs won in the bottom of the 9th inning 3 to 2. I enjoyed a fantastic time in Chicago! Also I'm an undefeated Cubs fan at Wrigley Field.
This is the link for the previous post I did about my experience enjoying baseball at "Wrigley Field".
Number of lines 8
Number of stations 145
System length 224.1 mi (360.7 km)
"Bart" (Bay Area Rapid Transit) 2007
In 2007 I did a major tour of the west coat of California. The trip began in San Francisco. The adventure ended 3 weeks later in the beautiful city of San Diego. I lived a lot along the way. One week in the Bay Area. Four days visiting Yosemite National Park. Four days in the Monterey-Carmel area. Then shorts stops in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica before arriving in San Diego. It was an excellent trip.
If you are impressed and interested in public transit. Then the city of San Francisco will keep you enthralled. For San Francisco has the best of antique and modern systems of transit they any other city in the world. In the city of San Francisco. You will find 3 original lines of the "Cable Car" system. Which dates back to 1873. A fleet of electric trolley buses. A collection of historic street cars. Still in operation. Then there is "Bart". Which stands for "Bay Area Rapid Transit". Saying right off of the top. I have to commend all the people who; designed, built and established "Bart". It was not an easy task designing and building a modern rapid transit system in a major earthquake zone. However "Bart" began operations September 11, 1972. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system has been going strong ever since.
The engineers who designed "Bart" had the monumental challenge of producing a system that would meet the needs of the inhabitants of the Bay Area. Also making the structures that allow the Bart Trains to run; below, above and on ground level safe in a major earthquake area. The most amazing part of the "Bart" System. Is the "Transbay Tube". Which is an underwater tunnel that lies on the bottom of San Francisco Bay. That connects the cities of San Francisco and Oakland. This 3.6 mile submersed tunnel. That lies at a maximum depth of 135 feet below sea level. Is truly one of the greatest engineering accomplishments in human history. Considering the constant threat of earthquakes in the Bay Area. It made more sense. To build the "Transbay Tube" in sections and weld them into place. Seating and entrenching them on the bottom of San Francisco Bay. Compared to boring a tunnel under the Bay. For the "Transbay Tube" has been designed to shift and take the stress of a major ground disturbance. The "Transbay Tube" and the entire "Bart" System passed with flying colors. As they survived a major earthquake that attacked the Bay Area in 1989. There was severe damage in the Bay Area. However no major damage to Bart. The Transbay Tube reopened 6 hours after the earthquake hit. After it was fully checked out for damage.
I have fond memories of taking a "Bart" train from San Francisco to Oakland. Then onto to city of Berkeley. I can remember the train operator I was traveling on. Increased speed to maximum as we traversed 3.6 mile distance through the "Transbay Tube". You can't really tell that you are moving on the bottom of the ocean as you pass through the "Transbay Tube". When I arrived back in San Francisco after my visit to Berkeley. I rode a Cable Car back to where I was staying in San Francisco. Close to the Fisherman' Wharf. This was an amazing journey!
Number of lines 5
Number of stations 44
Began operation September 11, 1972
System length 104 mi (167 km)
Brussels Metro 2009
I traveled backs to Europe during the winter of 2009. The trip was 3 weeks in length during the month of February. I enjoy visiting Europe. The old historic atmosphere of there major cities and towns. Also the slower pace of life, compared to what we are accustomed to here in North America. Are all very appealing to me. The itinerary of this trip was 1 week in the Netherlands, 1 week in Belgium, and 1 week in London. I enjoyed visiting great friend Peter V/D W. I enjoyed the chance to travel with Peter around his home country of Holland and we had a day of biking. Which was excellent!
The second week I ventured out on my own to visit Brussels Belgium, and the historic city of Brugge. Which is a treasure that will be enjoyed every time you visit there.
My underground train experience during this part of the trip. Occurred when I was visiting Brussels. I arrived in Brussels in the middle of February expecting to easily find hostel accommodations. Without any difficulty. I did find a great place to stay. That was located a short distance from the main train station located in Brussels. However they could not accommodate me for the length of my stay. I was determined to keep to my itinerary. So with some luck I was able to find another suitable place to stay. However it was located in another area of Brussels. It was not a problem as I traveled underground on their modern and very clean Metro. It is so easy and pleasant to travel by underground train. It keeps air polluting cars off of the road. At the same time. Quickly moves people both safe and efficiently. I did enjoy my visit to Belgium during this trip. You will also. Hoping you can find the time and money to make a trip possible for you.
Number of lines 7
Number of stations 59
Began operation 1976
System length 49.9 km (31 mi)
The last part of this trip was spent in London, England. As I got the chance to explore more of the capital of England. Enjoying visiting their famous museums by day. Then the chance to enjoy their world famous theater district by night! It was my second shot of using the London "Tube" as my mode of transportation. I stayed in the rich neighborhood of London on Earls Court Road. In a hostel named the "Court" Hostel. Great area of London to live and to hang out. However I wouldn't recommend for anyone to stay at the "Court" hostel. The amenities in this place were not good. But the location was brilliant!
When I arrived in London. I flew to Heathrow Airport from Amsterdam. After I gathered my luggage. I headed for the "Tube" station located at Heathrow. The "Heathrow Airport Tube Station" is located on the Piccadilly Line. Which was very convenient for me. Because The "Earl's Court Station" is also on the Piccadilly Line. We I arrived at Earl's Court Station. It was less than a 5 minute walk to get into the Court Hostel. I have included some of my own pictures of 2009 travels on the London "Tube".
During February 2011. I put together an excellent 1 week trip to the national capital of the United States, Washington D.C. I stayed at the HI Hostel located in downtown D.C. The staff of the hostel were very friendly. Also you were in walking distance of most of the major tourist sites in D.C. That would be the National Mall. With all of the famous monuments on one side of the Washington Monument. Then you have all of the world famous Smithsonian Museums lining the National Mall. Leading you to the Capitol Building. You cannot get bored visiting Washington D.C. Plus I had great weather for February in Washington D.C.
I did use "D.C. Metro Rail" quite a bit during my stay. This rapid transit system is the second largest rapid underground train system in the United Stales. Second only to New York City. I flew into "Reagan National Airport". Which is located very close to downtown Washington. Yes there is a Metro Rail Station located at the airport. It was a short underground train ride to transport me to downtown D.C. and within an easy walk to the "HI Hostel". I did have some criticism for the Metro Rail System. For one thing all of the stations look the same. So you really have to be aware where you are, and where you want to get off. So you won't miss your destination. Also some important locations in Washington where there should be a station. There isn't one. For example there is no Metro Rail Station located in "Georgetown". The reason for that is. The very wealthy inhabitants. Decided they did not want a station put in. The "Metropolitan Area Transit Authority" which operates "Metro Rail" is in the process of completing the new "Silver Line". Which will connect "Dulles Airport" with downtown Washington D.C. The "Silver Line is scheduled to open in 2013.
Opened March 27, 1976; 36 years ago
Stations 86 (5 under construction)
Services Red Line
Silver Line (under construction)
Line length 106.3 mi (171.1 km)
Well I made it to the end of this long post. I hope you have enjoyed the rides on these amazing and historic rapid transit systems. That are located in our world. These great transit systems are find examples of what we human beings are capable of. If we work together for a better purpose. I hope you venture out and get to experience and enjoy them. Never stop traveling and enjoying life!