Sunday, May 23, 2010

One difference between London Underground and Singapore MRT that is often overlooked

A colleague of mine who visited Singapore some time back was so taken with its MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), which is it equivalent of London Underground, that she took more pictures of it than the durian shaped Esplanade.

"It's marvelous! Not only the trains are wider, the hallways are huge and there's even air conditioning!" she gasped, "You could travel from one shopping mall to another without even getting up to the surface and oh, don't even get me started about the wonderful murals."

All very true. I'm sure she was comparing Singapore's MRT with London Underground when she made the comments. Then again, Singapore has the benefit of almost a century of hindsight, not to mention the wizardry of Japanese technology.

So there I was, waiting for Wife outside a busy London Underground station flipping through my Evening Standard for the umpteenth time, when something struck me. Other than the wide trains and hallways, murals and air-conditioning, there is another key difference between London Underground and Singapore's MRT - their fare gates (or gantries if you prefer).

Paddle styled gate panels at London Underground (image source)

Clamping contraption at Singapore's MRT fare gates (image source)

The Underground's fare gate is essentially two flimsy panels that open away from the passenger as she walks through. The fare gates at MRT consist of two sturdy bright red contraptions that extend and clamp shut when the passenger is through.Therein lies the difference - one pushes you back while the other crushes you. Believe me, you wouldn't want to be caught between the two lobster red clamps. The experience could be kidney crushing, literally.

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Emm said...

Heh. Actually, I've had one of the London ones close on me because somebody started walking backwards again towards me (I usually wait until the person before me is well clear before I proceed). I was absolutely winded and even double up somewhat - it was very, very sore!

C K said...

Ouch! You mean the person who was in front of you backed into you?

I recall the one at Paris' Metro looked quite intimidating as well.

xiaocangshu said...

At Singapore's LRT (Light Rail Transit: each train consists of one or two automated cars not unlike the monorail at the airport. One system covers a housing estate.) stations you tap your card and then go through a turnstile.

C K said...

Oh, forgot to mention that. Thanks for the timely reminder. Have not taken an LRT for quite some time. :)

Karin said...

actually the main difference to me is the heigh of the gantries - the Singapore one is lower, perhaps because we don't expect there to be fare dodgers who decide to make a running leap over the gate. it's technically possible though - our gantries are so low...