London vs Berlin – The tube

I would like to start a little series: “London vs Berlin”
As I am a nice girl and I really do not think any city would win over the other in the end, I will try to balance these posts.

Let us start with …

The tube
London Berlin
accessibility bad good
cleanliness good bad

Yes, it is really that simple. There is nothing more to add to that.
Well okay, I will explain a bit …


Let some hard facts speak for themselves:

  • Accessible tube stations in Berlin (BVG zone A): 47 out of 96 = 49%.
  • Accessible tube stations in London (TFL zones 1+2): 17 out of 132 = 13%!

I do not know the perspective of a wheelchair user, but I once had to move a very heavy suitcase from Willesden Green to Plaistow and had to change twice. There were a lot of stairs, hardly any moving ones and no lifts at all (minus one point for the public transport system). But there was always someone to help me carrying the suitcase up and down the stairs (plus one point for the Londoners).

That could not have happened in Berlin. (Ambiguity intended.)


Whenever I mention to Londoners that the London tube is so much cleaner than the Berlin tube, they are very surprised. Most Londoners find the tube in London very dirty indeed. But they obviously do not know the Berlin tube, especially not when it runs through Kreuzberg. Where else can you see garbage, vomit, condoms, broken bottles and blood stains all in one compartment?

I wonder why the tube in London is so clean.
Is it the extreme security? After all, every piece of garbage could potentially be a bomb.
Do they have more money to hire more cleaning staff? Possibly.
Or do Londoners just behave themselves? Highly unlikely. 😉

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3 Responses to “London vs Berlin – The tube”

  1. boethi says:

    berlin isn’t THAT dirty. have you lived here in the eighties? that was a time when berlin was REALLY dirty. and there were parts of the city where you felt like it was still 1944 or something (e.g. s-bahn station “westkreuz”).

  2. Viktoria says:

    I have lived in Berlin and London (currently in London), and I am shocked by London’s dirty streets. Some tube stations in Berlin might be quite dirty, but overall, Berlin is a MUCH cleaner city! In London, everything is run down and dirty. People just don’t care, and it is perfectly normal to throw your little on the streets in London, not only in “bad” areas. It actually makes me sad, London is supposed to be a city to look up to, one of the world’s cultural centers, and yet everything is run down. I can’t wait to move away from this ugly, big dirty city again, to a place where people actually care….

  3. selfthinker says:

    Unfortunately that’s true for many areas in London, but not for all of them. And it’s also true that those many dirty areas are *shockingly* dirty. Sometimes you feel like in the slums of a third-world country than in a big western city. In some areas it’s even quite common to see proper “institutions” like the post office or a surgery to be really run-down with wallpaper coming off the wall and broken windows and looking like not cleaned for weeks. I’ve also seen front gardens full of garbage and people not caring about it at all.

    But there are two kinds of areas in London which are not that dirty: The tourist areas are clean enough, because someone pays enough money to get them constantly cleaned. And some areas are quite clean because people actually do care. I have only lived and worked in 7 areas in London, so cannot really say anything about the ratio between clean and dirty areas. The 3 areas I’ve worked in were in the city, so don’t really count (because they are cleaned for the tourists). 2 of those 4 areas I’ve lived in were of that shockingly dirty kind, but 1 was very clean (Ealing) and 1 was okay (Leyton). So, it really depends on where you live.

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