9 reasons the Shanghai Metro is better than the London Underground

Last week, the Transporting London team took a trip to Shanghai, China. Whilst we were there we used Shanghai’s super modern metro system, and quite frankly it puts the London Underground to shame. The system was opened in 1993, and last year it saw over 2.8bn individual journeys undertaken, more than twice London’s number. This number makes it the third most used metro system in the world after Beijing and Seoul.

Taking daily rides on Shanghai’s super swanky metro system made us think about just how rubbish the London Underground really is. So here are just nine reasons (there are lots more) why the Shanghai Metro is better than the Tube.

1) Changing lines is a doddle.

When the time comes to change lines, the signs are way less confusing. No more spending hours wandering around Bank trying to find the Central line. Just follow the arrows.

Shanghai Metro Line 2 sign
It’s pretty clear which way Line 2 is, isn’t it?

2) It has TVs!!

You can watch TV whilst on the Shanghai Metro thanks to screens in every carriage. Admittedly its mainly ads, but there’s a bit of news once in a while, and that’s far better than a torn old copy of the Evening Standard.

Shanghai Metro TV screen
You can catch up on the latest news (if you speak Mandarin!) 

3) Safety.

With Jubilee line style barriers on every platform throughout Shanghai’s metro network, the likelihood of horrific accidents – like recent ones on the Tube at Liverpool Street, Clapham South and Old Street – happening is substantially lower, and that can only be a good thing.

Shanghai Metro safety barriers
Safety first in Shanghai 

4) Knowing where you are.

Trains on certain Shanghai Metro lines have handy little illuminated maps to show you exactly where on the line you are at all times. Far better than the odd announcement and an unreliable screen.

Shanghai Metro LED map
No more waiting for announcements about which station you’re at.

5) Handles to hold onto.

How many times have you found yourself on the Tube at Rush Hour, unable to find something to hold, and spending your entire journey trying not to fall over. Not so in Shanghai, where there are handles all over the place! As an added bonus, the handles are pleasantly low down. Great for those of us not blessed with an abundance of height.

Shanghai Metro handle
The perfect height for short people

6) There are pictures of a cartoon David Beckham everywhere.

Becks is advertising something, but we’re not quite sure what. Anyway who could fail to love seeing pictures of England’s most stylish footballer on their morning commute. Plus it reminds us of THAT free kick.

Shanghai Metro David Beckham crying cartoon
Cheer up Becks, you’re worth $350m 

7) Clear instructions.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been walking through a tube station and got the sudden urge to chase someone, only to stop in my tracks wondering whether it’s allowed. In Shanghai, no such problems as signs telling you what you can and can’t do are abundant and very clear.

Shanghai Metro rules
Polite reminders about how little fun you can have

8) The Mascot.

I have no idea what this little robot is supposed to symbolise, but it’s everywhere and really quite cute. As far as I know, London’s subterranean railway doesn’t have any such mascot and is much weaker for it.

Shanghai Metro cartoon
Happy Robot and his whole family 

9) You get phone signal!!

Shanghai’s Metro is a lot closer to the surface than the London Underground meaning that almost everywhere you go, you’ll be able to make calls and browse the net (Beware the roaming charges!)

N.B Unfortunately I don’t have a picture for this one.


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