Shaun Walker: Trains run like clockwork but shoving babushkas drive you to point of insanity

Share
Related Topics

As a seasoned traveller on both London's Tube and Moscow's metro, I find it difficult to say which one is worse.

Moscow has obvious advantages over London. The trains run like clockwork – a display records the time since the last train and it very rarely makes it to two minutes before the next one comes roaring into the station. In five years of living in the Russian capital, I can count the number of times I've been held inside a tunnel on the fingers of one hand. And the idea of whole lines experiencing "serious delays" for hours or days is unthinkable. Even when there were terrorist attacks on the metro in 2004, the affected stations were running as normal again the next day.

In a country where things so often don't work, it is a staggering model of efficiency. The unbroken human waterfall that comes cascading down the station escalators for hours on end is breathtaking. And some of the stations really are stunning – Revolution Square, with its life-size sculptures of Soviet archetypes, still leaves me speechless every time I pass through it. Komsomolskaya, with its ornate mosaics, chandeliers and gold trimming, is more Buckingham Palace than Green Park Tube.

On the other hand, the sheer level of pushing and shoving can drive you to the point of insanity. You soon realise that the worst offenders are the small but hardened babushkas, who can ruin your day with a carefully placed elbow to the kidney. Other hazards include unimaginably strong body odour, stray dogs, and ostensibly respectable businessmen who just happen to be necking four cans of 13 per cent watermelon-flavoured alcopops on their way to work at 8am.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Software Developer with SQL and .Net skills

£27000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable and dynamic softw...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Government is rushing through an emergency law to allow the state to retain personal data held by internet and telephone companies  

Don't call this the surveillance status quo – it's a cross-party stitch-up

Mike Harris
An obese man cools off by a pool  

Gastric bands for all? Why not?

Rosie Millard
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice