From London to Paris, all subways records

A strategical investment for the sustainability of international megacities

It all started in London. With the “Underground,” or rather “The Tube” as the English call it. On January 10, 1883, the first line, the Metropolitan Line, transported its passengers from one side to the other after the push for construction came from the then-mayor Charles Pearson, urged by citizens due to the unbearable traffic congesting the city center’s streets.

No one, on that cold January day, could imagine that the underground train would become the forerunner of the modern mass rapid transit rail system, the metro lines as we know them today, the most efficient, rapid, cost-effective, and sustainable solution for urban transportation.

From 1883 until now (140 years later), many metropolises have followed London’s example. Almost 150 years later, some are still competing with the records set by the English capital, while others have far surpassed them. Many have adopted metro lines as the most effective solution to connect distant points, often an airport to the city center, as recently happened with the inauguration of the M4 Linate-San Babila route in Milan, an operation carried out by the Webuild Group, connecting the airport to the center in just 12 minutes.

Time saved, reduced pollution, and decreased traffic congestion are the strengths of these infrastructures that, from Shanghai to Paris, from Riyadh to London, accompany the journeys of hundreds of millions of people.

Shanghai, the world record of the Chinese megalopolis

The size, population density, and economic vitality explain Shanghai‘s need to provide its citizens with one of the world’s most extensive and comprehensive metro networks. The Chinese megalopolis has surpassed 30 million inhabitants and spans a vast area of 6,340 square kilometers, over four times the size of London.

Connecting distant locations without congesting city streets becomes an imperative for the city administration and the state, which have invested billions of dollars in continually expanding the metro network. Currently, we speak of the world’s most comprehensive underground transportation system, with a total length of 831 kilometers. Of these, 167 kilometers and five lines operate with a driverless system, ensuring strategic connections, such as those between airports and the city center.

Shanghai’s record reveals how convincingly China has embraced this transportation model. Apart from the megalopolis, there are now 14 cities that boast metro networks exceeding 500 kilometers, a true world record.

London, the charm of being the first

With one fatal accident per 300 million journeys, London presents itself as one of the cities with the safest metro lines in the world. This may be one of the benefits of being the world’s first and oldest underground public transportation system on a railway.

Almost one hundred and fifty years of experience have transformed the Underground into an almost perfect machine, with strategic interconnections at key points in the city and lines reaching the farthest outskirts, ensuring connections even for those living far from the city center.

Currently, London’s metro boasts 405.2 kilometers of tracks with 272 stations. In the city, one can take the metro to reach any place: Heathrow Airport, the Wimbledon tennis temple, the Harry Potter theme park. For this reason, the Tube has become an integral part of city life, so much so that Transport for London (the infrastructure manager) estimates that each train covers 123,600 kilometers per year, roughly three orbits around the Earth’s circumference.

Paris and Riyadh, renewal and growth

The capital of France and the capital of Saudi Arabia have little in common, yet they share the same ambition to complete two of the world’s most extensive new metro network projects. Paris has accepted the challenge of creating the Grand Paris Express, a new metro network that complements the existing one and measures about 200 kilometers, connecting almost all the municipalities of Île-de-France. With its environmental impact, the project aims to support the commitment of the French capital to becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2050, in addition to becoming an excellent means of transportation for millions of people.

Riyadh has spent the past years building its first metro network: 176 kilometers with six lines for a total investment exceeding 20 billion dollars. Webuild has also been involved in the project by constructing Line 3, 41.58 kilometers of pure technology connecting the west with the east of the city, through the construction of 22 stations.

The Group is also engaged in the Grand Paris Express, where it is working on two lines (14 and 16) that, once operational, will remove 385,000 vehicles from the roads daily, avoiding 81,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Daily miracles ensured by the trains of the city lines.