Thursday 26 June 2008
Next train...10 minuti
Rome has perhaps the worst underground metro system in the whole of Europe. It is ugly, smelly, dirty and plain embarrassing for a capital city if you ask me. I have travelled through most of Western Europe with a little of East and Northern Europe thrown in and even lived in London for a few years so have seen many underground trains in my time. In my opinion the Rome metro is the worst and there is no wonder why there are so many cars and mopeds on the road. No one wants to travel on Rome's public transport unless they have to!
Currently we have ONLY two operational train lines A and B which do not even begin to cover most of the city. I know...I know - Rome is old and every time they dig down they discover some more ancient ruins so have to stop building. I know. But come on! Find a solution. Put some more trams on the roads then, above ground.
So we have Line A and Line B. Line A is not so bad as it is the 'tourist' train dropping thousands of sun burnt and soon to be pick pocketed people off at well known places like: Spanish Steps, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain. These trains are air conditioned, open and spacious with television screens showing some local information. The television keeps the locals awake as the jostle with the weary travellers to get a comfortable portion of space on the crowded trains...and sadly often the television distracts the weary tourists who look up at the pretty pictures on the screen rather then look down at the beggar whose hand is inching closer to their bulging wallet.
So fairs fair...Line A is Ok. Once you are in the train that is.
Line B however leaves much to be desired and sadly my closest station is on Line B.
Line B has the old, hagged trains that are full inside and out with graffiti...on the doors, floors, windows and roof. FULL. There is no air conditioning, not unless you count the filthy open windows blowing the polluted air from the underground tunnels into the carriage. Since there is no fresh air then you can imagine the smell, fresh urine and sweat comes to mind. You can imagine how joyful it is (note the sarcasm) to travel on these trains countless times everyday, when they come at infrequent intervals so that you have to be squashed on like a sardine, with your face shoved into the sweaty and deodorant-less armpit of a gypsy family who then start to screech at the top of their lungs asking for money.
How pleasant - yes. I especially love it when I leave the house, freshly showered (with deodorant) and my work uniform nice and clean...only to then be on the metro in the above conditions for 20 minutes to finally jump out at the termini station, sweaty to the bone with my hair plastered to my face and wondering where my deodorant has gone.
If the train journey itself is not bad enough the stations here are mostly underground so you have to walk down countless flights of stairs, through low tunnels that have these harsh fluorescent lights and NOT AN OUNCE OF AIR CONDITIONING. Not one little bit. Sometimes, with the stations like Flaminio and Spagna you seem to be stuck in these underground sweat box tunnels for what seems like hours as you battle through the crowds without being able to see the outside light. Oh, how I miss the London underground which had a way of making you forget you were so far under the earth!