Londoners love to hate the Tube. The London Underground is said to be overpriced, overcrowded, and prone to breakdowns and strikes, but perhaps the biggest (and most valid) complaint is that on hot summer days the lack of air conditioning turns the cars into ovens. I’ve even seen people faint, either from the heat or the stink of sweaty bodies.
Londoners and visitors alike will have some relief next summer as the city introduces its first air conditioned subway car, which was delivered this week.
But don’t throw away your water bottles just yet. The first air conditioned car will only be on the Metropolitan line, and that line won’t be entirely air conditioned until 2011. By 2015, the District and Circle lines will also have air conditioning.
That’s a long wait, and the nine other lines will have to wait even longer, perhaps forever. Some, such as the heavily used Northern and Piccadilly lines, are too deep in the earth to easily expel warm air. The Piccadilly is the one that goes to Heathrow, so you can have a nice sweat after several hours of cramped seating and airline food.
Oh, and there’s more bad news. Since this is part of a major revamping of the Tube system, prices will go up 3.9 percent, and bus fares will also go up 12 percent. The fare hikes will start in January 2012.