New York, think Paris, London, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and
Moscow. Each a thriving metropolis and home to millions. Each
commuting centres for industrial and financial operators.
Each systematically and unstoppably grinding towards gridlock.
One of many common denominators in these cultural cosmopolitan
cities are the worlds below their feet, their underground
rail networks, their subways. Dank, depressing warrens of
migrating humans, or the future for a better way of life above
ground? After decades of moving around in intersecting tubes,
the jury is still out. But for one city the future is looking
exceedingly bright. If you take all the best bits from undergrounds
around the world, discard everything that does not work and
then throw millions of dollars into further design and construction,
then you have the project that has every Singaporean drooling
over their dim sum - The Singapore Circle Line, one of the
biggest and certainly best underground railways in the world.
In this film we witness the realization of this utopian vision
under construction. The spectacle is addictively fascinating.
That's because the mission is fraught with difficulties. Can
the team follow through on Lee Kuan Yew's vision? We also
drop in on another great feat of underground construction:
Amsterdam's North-South line. This historic city is finally
getting a Metro Line extension. As it turns out, the planners
and construction teams would have had an easier time sending
a rocket to the moon.
The west coast main line railway between London and Scotland
is one of the busiest in the world. Millions of people regularly
commute on new state-of-the-art trains running on century-old
tracks. Watch as this episode follows the replacement of the
vintage rail line, section by section, up and down the length
of the country. At US$14million and with 60 million hours
already worked it's the largest current engineering project
in Europe. As the line is still in operation, this mammoth
engineering feat has to happen over the weekends. Every Friday
night, 10,000 workers and millions of dollars worth of machinery
roll onto the tracks in a race to get the job done to in time
to hand the line back for the Monday morning commuters.
walked past a Mass Rapid transit (MRT) station and seen those
men peering through those camera-like gadgets supported by
tripods? Ever wondered what they are doing?
the benefit of the more ignorant (this reviewer included),
those men are ensuring our safety by taking measurements and
making sure that nothing on ground has shifted – due
to the tunneling that is taking place underground.
is the kind of interesting trivia and little pieces of information
that will make you sound intelligent at the next party you
go to if you watch this Discovery Network documentary.
“Singapore Circle Line”, this episode is bundled
with “The World’s Busiest Railway” on this
viewers would probably have lots of fun seeing familiar footages
in this 45-minute episode. The UK-produced documentary sees
how Singapore has developed from a “third world country”
to today’s massively organized urban city. It highlights
on the taken-for-granted rail system we have in Singapore,
and follows architects and construction workers underground
where danger lurks with every inch of soil removed.
will be moments where you chuckle at the documentary’s
narration, especially the guffaw-worthy segment where we are
described as “very superstitious” people. The
producers just had to complete the picture by interviewing
a “feng shui” master where the poor man has to
go around with his exotic looking compass and talk in true-blue
Singlish about “chi” and making sure the right
places are dug up for the underground train tunnels.
there are those “official voices” moments where
you see officials from the Land Transport Authority (LTA)
and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) being interviewed.
These important-looking people talk about safety, chemical
defense capabilities of the underground stations, as well
as, in an unpredictable moment, the tragedy that the nation
saw in April 2004 – the Nicoll Highway collapse.
human touches are added to the documentary as well, where
everyday folk affected by the tearing down of buildings to
make way for the tunnels are interviewed. Listening to them
speak in familiar dialect is indeed a nice touch to the overseas
you have realized by now, a large part of this review is dedicated
to the episode about Singapore. The other episode describing
the replacement of the old railway line between London and
Scotland is, well, in a word, informative.
after shot of the workers racing against time to restore the
tracks every Friday night to meet the deadline on Monday morning
is interesting to watch. The scale of this expensive project
in Europe is definitely an eye-opener. Of course, being viewers
on this side of the globe, this episode is informative but
not engaging to watch.
are sure this is the same feeling viewers from outside Singapore
will get when they watch the episode about our underground
There are no extra features on this disc – as if the
documentaries aren’t informative enough already.
audio and visual transfers are what you’d expect from
a TV documentary, nothing to be particularly excited about..
by John Li