Hello again and welcome back to Britain under the Microscope 閑話英倫Hello Anlan.
Hello everybody today.
Today We have got a special episode.
That's because today we want to take you on a journey.
Can you hear the background noise? We are right now at a subway station in London.
Actually not a subway station we are at a tube station.
Ah right because British English you don't say subway, you would say underground.
Yeah. If we're talking about the London underground, we would normally call it the tube.
The tube, t u b e, why? Is it just because the shape?
Yeah it looks like a tube.
So normally when people talk about it they would say the tube station.
Or getting on the tube.
Getting on the tube. I heard a lot of interesting things about the London underground, but forgive me for saying this,it all looks quite old.How old is it?
Well, that's to be expected. It is over a hundred and fifty years old.
A hundred and fifty. So when did it first open?
It first opened in 1863.
And that line was the metropolitan line and it was opened up at that time and to save costs, what they did was they dug the tunnels underneath the street. So pretty much most of the London underground lines they follow the street pattern of London.
So they don't have to tear down any buildings.
No, and more importantly they don't have to pay people to use underneath their house.
And so it expanded over the years.
Um hang on, I think that's our train coming.
All right.It's not as crowded as I thought.
Oh, you should see what it's like at rush hour.
Does it get really crowded?
Well, if you think of it this way, there are 4.8 million passengers a day.
4.8 million.What is the population of London?
It's around eight to nine million people.
So essentially half of the London's population.
Yeah, just about.
But exactly how many lines do you have now?
Well, at the moment we have eleven lines, two hundred and seventy stations. And if you look at the map just above us, just above the door, you can see.
Oh, the lines.
Yeah, and that's only central London.
Oh, only part of it.
Yes, they're over about four hundred kilometers of track.
Oh, I have a question though. These lines they all have their own names, they are not numbered. Not like in Beijing. We have line one, two, three.
No, no, that are all given names. So for example the Metropolitan line, the Northern line.
What is Bakerloo line? That's not a word,Bakerloo.
No, it comes from, if you take a look, you have Baker street and Waterloo, the two main stations, so Bakerloo.
It's a combination.
It's just a made up word. And then this card we got today. This is your transportation card, isn't it?
Yeah, this is called an Oyster card.
Why is it called an Oyster card? O y s t e r, isn't that a seafood?
Yeah, but there are lots of reasons why we call it an oyster card. But one of the main ones is it's the idiom, the world is your oyster.
The world is your oyster. What does that even mean?
It means that possibilities are endless, there are so many places you can go to,there are so many things that you can do.It's originally from Shakespeare.
It's from Shakespeare. It's one of his creations, I guess. The world is your oyster. It means you are in control, you can do whatever you want, endless possibilities.
As long as you pay.
Yeah, it's an apt name for a travel card, I guess.
And so in order to use it, you have to keep topping it up, to top up an oyster card.
Putting money into it. And I noticed that it's just touch in and touch out. You don't have to put the card in the machine.
No,no, you just touch in and then touch out when you leave.
Is that very popular? Do people generally use oyster card?
Yeah. Because if you use cash to pay for your tickets, it's actually more expensive. Using Oyster card is cheaper.
That's quite similar to a lot of the places. But even with Oyster card, it's still really expensive. I checked my balance. it seems that for this one journey, they have taken almost three pounds.
Yeah London underground is quite expensive. If you think it in this way, the shortest distance between two stations is only two hundred sixty meters. So if you want to go from Leicester Square and Covent Garden, it's only a very short distance only takes twenty seconds. But if you pay for a ticket pay by cash, it costs four pound ninety.
You're joking, almost five pounds for twenty seconds.
For twenty seconds.
Who would even take that? I can just walk.
Well, lots of tourists, they take it because they don't know the distance. But nowadays because obviously we think about more healthy living you do see some tube maps where you can actually see the distance from how long it would take you to walk there.
Yeah. Did you see a lot of people walking in the center of London. Actually it feels pretty hot in here. I mean it's quite cold out, but inside the train inside the underground it's really hot.
Yeah, that's because there's no or very little air conditioning you should actually come during the summer months. (I cannot imagine) It's very hot down here.
Do people not get heat stroke?
Um, sometimes people do and around that time around the times of heat waves they will have posters saying it's important to take water on board the train. Just in case.
You see trains in Beijing. They are all very air conditioned. Why don't you just crank up the AC?
Uh, because there's no room for it. Most of these tunnels were built over a hundred years ago. There's not enough space to put in the air conditioning units and it will also be very very expensive.
Talking about the space, I didn't notice the carriage roof is quite low. I'm really short but this still seems quite low. Isn't that quite low for you?
Yeah. it's very low for me, but the reason why is that all of the tunnels are roughly the same height and all the trains are roughly the same high. And and when they first open the tunnels people were much shorter back then. You have to think of around a hundred fifty years ago, people were generally quite a bit shorter than people nowadays.
I guess it's kind of like a double edged sword. You have the long history, but you also have to face the challenge of, you know, it's quite difficult to revamp, to renovate what is so old and you cannot stop to train, can you?
No, that's if they close tube lines for too long, it would create chaos in London.
It's really a blood line in London. By the way Anlan, I noticed that it's really quiet in here. I feel it's very self-conscious being the only one that's talking so loudly.
Well, generally, yeah, there's a lot of rules of etiquette on the tube. Generally, commuters don't speak to each other, they keep their eyes down, they avoid eye contact and they try not to make too much noise.
This is also a bit more British, isn't it?
I think so. Yeah.
Speaking of which, speaking of avoiding eye contact, a while ago, there was a movement I think started by an American, you pin these badges, these buttons down, 上面寫著to chat. It is created to try to encourage people to talk with their fellow passengers. But it just didn't work in London.
It didn't work. Uh, that's because people just feel very embarrassed doing that. And a lot of people like the fact that in London underground, you can't use your phone, there's no signal, there's no wifi. And a lot of people actually just like watching someone there on their mobile phone or just reading a book or reading a newspaper.
Being quiet and appreciate the silence, the quietness. I even read it somewhere that Londoners actually created a badge that says, don't you even think about talking to me.
That I can believe.
There's a lot about the whole mentality and the other rules the other sort of etiquette include things like obviously you let people get off the train first and then you go on the train.
Very important. Yeah.
And also you stand on the right side of the escalator.
Yeah. That's because the left side is for people who are in a rush, so they are walking down or up. And it's very important not to block.
Another thing that I found quite peculiar about London's underground is that you see far more well-dressed people on the underground, especially men in very expensive looking suits.
Yeah, that's absolutely right. You mentioned about being in Beijing, most people who would be wearing those type of suits, they would probably be driving or they would get a taxi.
Even get a driver.
Or get a driver, yeah. But in London it's simply not convenient to drive. it's not just expense but it's also the time. Using the underground is much more convenient.
You also get a lot of traffic jam in the center of London.
We do, to a certain extent, we do have a congestion charge(堵車稅).
Because the streets are very narrow. So these people well-dressed, I assume they will go to the city of London? They're mostly in banking finance?
This is also one peculiar thing about London I would think, it's a quintessential London image.
Lulu, I think our stop is coming.
Ah okay. So which station are we arriving at?
We are coming into King's cross now.
King's cross? Isn't that the station mentioned in Harry Potter?
Yeah,platform nine and three quarters.
Do you actually have the platform nine and three quarters?
Well, we have the sign and we have somewhere we can take the photo.
Shall we go?
Yeah, yeah. Let's see if we can catch the Hogwarts Express. So if you are ever in London don't forget to try the tube; if you're Harry Potter fan, don't forget to come to King's Cross.
If you've ever been on the London tube, or if you have any questions about it let us know in the comments section.
And also feel free to share with us your subway adventure. We'll see you next time. Bye.