The World's Oldest Metro Systems

The London Underground is undoubtedly the quickest and most convenient way to travel through the historic city of London.
The London Underground is undoubtedly the quickest and most convenient way to travel through the historic city of London.

Metro systems are subways, U-Bahns or underground electrified rapid transit train systems worldwide. As at 2014, 157 cities in over 50 countries around the world are homes to over 160 metro systems. London Underground, which is the earliest metro system, was initially opened as an underground railway in 1863. The first electrified underground line was opened in London in 1890 making it the first metro system in the world. Shanghai Metro has the longest route length while the busiest metro system is the Beijing Subway. Some of the oldest metro systems around the world include:

Some Of The Oldest And Grandest Metro Systems In The World


London Underground, nicknamed as the Tube, is an underground rapid transit system serving the Greater London and the adjacent counties in the United Kingdom. Metropolitan Railway, which was the world’s first underground railway which began its operations in 1863, forms part of the London metro system. The London Underground has been expanded to 11 lines since its first opening in 1890 and serves over 1.3 billion passengers annually and 4.8 million daily making it world’s 11th busiest metro system. The old underground line was owned by private companies who were brought together under the brand “UNDERGROUND” in the early 20th century. The current metro system is operated by the London Underground Limited which is a subsidiary of Transport for London.


Budapest Metro is the oldest electrified underground railways system in Europe and serves the Hungarian capital Budapest. The metro system is the second oldest electrically operated system in the world. The metro system was opened in 1896 and was listed as a world heritage site in 2002. The metro is made up of four lines designated numbers and colors including yellow, red, blue, and green. These lines run in different directions. The first metro line in Budapest was constructed as a means of ferrying passengers from the city center to the City Park with the construction work beginning in 1894. The four lines have undergone major building and upgrading in the past years with a plan to introduce the fifth line (Purple line) to the metro system. An automated fare collection and ticket system have been implemented.


Glasgow Subway is a metro line in Glasgow, Scotland opened in 1896. The metro line is the third oldest in the world after London and Budapest metro system. Glasgow subway is the only heavy rail underground metro system in the UK outside of London and the only metro system in the UK which operates entirely underground. The subway was initially a cable railway before its electrification. The line was known as Glasgow District Subway but was renamed Glasgow Subway Railway and finally named Glasgow Underground in 1936. The metro system has not been expanded from the original route although ambitious plans have been unveiled for its expansion.


Chicago L or Chicago Elevated serves the city of Chicago and its suburbs. It is the fourth largest metro system in the US with a total route length of 102.8 miles. Chicago Transit Authority operates the metro system. Chicago L runs for 24 hours on portions of its network. The metro system began its operations in 1892 and had been credited with the rapid growth of the city of Chicago. The rapid system serves an average of 750,000 passengers every weekday. Future expansions on the transit system have been identified including the Clinton Street Subway and Airport Express.

Future Of Metros

Metro systems are mainly confined to the cities as opposed to other means of transport which can be accessed in rural areas. The system length of any metro network is the total length of all routes covered by the metro system with the routes counted once regardless of the number of lines which pass through it. Over 50 metro systems worldwide are currently under construction with a few expected to be opened in 2020.

The World's Oldest Metro Systems

RankCity SystemYear of opening
9New YorkSubway1904
12Buenos AiresUnderground1913

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