Public transport is crucial in large cities to guarantee capillary coverage and to meet citizens' mobility needs. A metro meets this need as it allows people to move quickly across the city.
In 1863, London was the first city that thought of developing an underground railway system to ease the way citizens moved around the city, therefore giving birth to the world's first underground metro system.
This underground transport system was then subsequently also adopted by other cities, which in time, managed to create a vast network.
Underground rail systems can be characterized by their extension (expressed in km) and for the number of stations and lines.
Do you know which underground is the world's longest? Here's the ranking of the metros with the greatest extension.
The 10 longest metro systems in the world
Shanghai - Shanghai's metro ranks first, as it is 588 km long. It was inaugurated in 1993 and has 14 lines. Its 364 stations have a capacity of over 3 million people per year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2016. These numbers make Shanghai the world's longest metro. It is a modern and technological structure. The Transrapid (or Maglev), the magnetic levitation type train, operates here. It can reach 350 km/h in just 2 minutes.
Beijing - Beijing's metro ranks second, as it is 554 Km long. It was inaugurated in 1971, and has 18 lines. Its 334 stations have a capacity of over 3 million people per year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2015. It was built at the start of the 70's. It was the first metro, in fact, to be built in continental China. Further development was carried out in 2008 for the Olympic Games. Beijing's metro is also known as "the Underground Dragon". It has a reputation of constant maintenance works, both on trains and on stations, and for the numerous data made available to all passengers. This metro is also sustainable, as line 10 provides the possibility to throw away plastic bottles in specific containers, receiving a discount on ticket prices.
London - London's metro ranks third in the world as it is 402 km long. It was inaugurated in 1890, and has 11 lines. Its 270 stations have a capacity of over 1 million people per year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2008. It's the first underground metro to be built in the world, and continues to be efficient. Known as “The Tube”, London's metro system is for everyone, and is, in fact, also used by celebrities.
New York City - The New York metro, among the 10 longest metros in the world, ranks fourth, as it is 375 km long. It was inaugurated in 1904 and has 34 lines. 2 million passengers transit through its 469 stations each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2015. It's the first metro system to guarantee a 24/7 service, and where you can also see numerous street artists performing.
Moscow - Moving to Russia, Moscow's underground ranks fifth as it is 338.8 km long. This structure was inaugurated in 1935, and has 14 lines. 2 million people transit through its 203 stations each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2016. The metro, here, works in two ways: it’s an efficient means of transport, but also a place to visit when staying in the city, due to the fact that 44 of its stations are considered part of the World Heritage. Something curious: according to what has been stated by the Transport Department, Moscow's metro guarantees the highest punctuality; moreover, during the Second World War, it served as an underground anti-raid bunker, allowing many people to save their lives.
Seoul - Seoul's metro ranks sixth as it is 331.5 Km long. This structure was inaugurated in 1974, and counts 20 lines. Over 2 million and a half passengers transit through its 256 stations each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2015. It's one of the world's most used, also considering the importance of the lines for commutes. This technological and always connected metro provides real time great amounts of data to passengers. It also offers comfort with its heated seats during the winter season.
Madrid - Let's go back to Europe, and more precisely, in Spain, where Madrid's metro, with its 294 km ranks seventh in the world's 10 longest metros ranking. This structure was inaugurated in 1919, and has 13 lines. 5 million people transit through its 301 stations each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2015. Its constant growth during these years allows it to compare with the most modern and technologically advanced metros, like Shanghai's and Beijing's. A few curious things to know: Madrid's metro has 1,698 escalators and 522 lifts; one of its stations even hosts an archaeological museum.
Shenzen – In China, we can also find one of the most recent metros that is 286 km long. It ranks eighth. The Shenzen metro was inaugurated in 2004. It has 8 lines and 149 stations, with over one million passengers transiting each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2016.
Guangzhou – In China, we can also find the world's ninth ranking metro. It is267.5 Km long, was inaugurated in 1997 and has 9 lines. 2 million people transit through its 144 stations each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2015, but the actual construction of this work found opposition, due to the inadequacy of the ground, deemed geologically inadequate for building an underground metro system. In 2013, a pothole opened near the worksite of two stations, causing various collapses.
Mexico City – This metro ranks tenth among the world's longest, measuring 226.5 km in length. It includes 12 lines and 195 stations, with over 1 million and half passengers transiting each year. The most recent expansion works were carried out in 2012. It's the first metro to introduce the symbol and colour system to identify the various lines that, except for line 4, have both underground and above-ground passages.