How the oldest underground railway is keeping up with the times

BY

NIGHT OWL

Anna Mae Lamentillo.jpg

The rapid-transit London Underground, more commonly known as the Tube, is the world’s first and oldest underground railway, dating back to 1863 when it was still called the Metropolitan Railway. 


More than a century and a half later, the Tube not only remains to be the most efficient transportation in London, but also continues to enhance its services, this time by providing high-speed mobile coverage in its underground network.


The uninterrupted 4G and 5G mobile coverage in the Underground will improve passenger experience as they will be able to make calls and access travel information across the Tube network.

 

Ensuring the Tube’s inclusivity and sustainability
 

The Tube has 11 lines with 272 stations that handles up to five million passenger journeys a day. At peak times, there are more than 543 trains in service, with the fastest line running 40 trains an hour. 
 

It’s a very busy network that ensures it will continuously provide citizens faster, more reliable, and greener transportation.


Accessibility is one of the key improvements that is being prioritized. Through the step-free access stations that have lifts, ramps, and level surfaces, passengers, especially those with accessibility needs, would not need to use escalators or stairs to move between the street and the platform. 


Meanwhile, sustainability measures are also being put in place in support of London’s plans to be a carbon neutral city by 2050.


The aim for the Tube is to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 as it transitions from the national grid supply to obtaining electricity from renewable power purchase agreements.


Reducing energy consumption is also a priority when replacing aging Tube fleet. Such is the case in upgrading the Piccadilly line, which accounts for more than 10 percent of all journeys on the Tube. The new trains are said to consume 20 percent less energy.

 

The need for an efficient railway system in PH

Imagine if we have such an efficient system like the Tube here in the Philippines, it will definitely be a gamechanger in mass transportation, and will be beneficial to our economy.
Prior to World War II, our rail transportation spanned 1,100 kilometers. The Philippine National Railways (PNR) used to run from La Union to Bicol, linking the north and south provinces of Luzon. In 2016, however, we only had about 77 kilometers of rail routes left. Instead of improving, we were on a decline.


According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), our lack of rail infrastructure has increased pressure on road transport, which carries about 98 percent of passenger traffic and 55 percent of freight in the country. Consequently, this led to road congestion especially within Metro Manila.


Thankfully, several railway projects are underway. We will have our first underground rapid transit, the Metro Manila Subway Project that is expected to be fully operational by 2029. It will have 17 stations — stretching from Valenzuela City to Parañaque City — that will cater to more than 500,000 passengers daily.


Millions of Filipinos, as well as our economy, will also greatly benefit from the construction and completion of the North-South Commuter Railway Project — a  147.26-kilometer railway project from New Clark City to Calamba, Laguna. 


It may take several more decades before we achieve a railway system similar to the London Underground. We still have a lot of catching up to do, that is why current efforts are really crucial. And I hope that within our lifetime, we will see, feel, and reap the economic benefits of a reliable, safe, efficient, inclusive, and sustainable railway system.