News of Moscow Metro

At the end of December 2003 Moscow Metro was innovated – slot-machines selling magnet tickets and charging smart-cards were put at such stations as Novogireevo, Savelovskaya, Timiryazevskaya, Aviamotornaya, Sokolniki and many others.
These stations are the busiest ones: during the rush hours there are enormous lines for tickets at their booking-offices. According to the Metro press service, in future such slot-machines will be put in all the Metro stations. They accept coins and bills up to 500 roubles, sell magnet cards for 1,2,5 and 10 trips and extend transport passes for 30, 90 and 365 days.

In fact, at one point Moscow Metro already had slot-machines. The first slot-machine was put in Komsomolskaya Station lobby in July 1942. It accepted 10 and 15 kopeck coins. Several months later, in December 1943, a slot-machine accepting 10, 15 and 20 kopeck coins was put in Dzerdzhinskaya (now – Lubyanka) Station. At that time one trip by Metro cost 40 kopecks, 10 kopecks more than before the war which made the authorities to raise the fare.

By the start of the World War II Moscow Metro had been functioning for 6 years. However, the first project of Metro was introduced in Moscow City Duma (municipal legislature) in 1902. Its author, engineer Balinsky, proposed to start the Metro construction with two lines: from the circular railway being under construction at that time (next to current Petrovskaya-Razumovskaya Station) through the city center and up to the St Basil cathedral, and farther over the Moscow river through Bolshaya Ordynka and Serpukhov Gate up to Paveltsky Railway Station where it was supposed to be connected with the circular railway again. For future there were plans to construct two circular lines: through Sadovaya Street and Zamoskvorechie.

Business interests of the Moscow authorities prevented the realization of this project. The resolution of the Municipal Council commission stated: “The project of Mr. Knorre and Mr. Balinsky annexes the bowels of the earth free. Meanwhile, they must be considered as the full property of the Municipal Council. …It deprives the Municipal Administration of the profit from exploitation of the city area… Exploitation conditions of these projects threaten with big loss for the interests of the Municipal Administration, connected with property”. This seems to indicate that in the desire to have profit from every square meter of the capital area Moscow authorities of the past kept up with their contemporary counterparts. Anyway, the Metro project was rejected by the Municipal Council. Next time the issue of constructing Metro in Moscow was raised in 1912, and that time the Council approved the design. However, then the revolutionary events did not allow to realize the construction project.

Next time Moscow found money for constructing Metro only in 1931. It was then when the debates started for the design that shaped Moscow Metro for many years ahead, and the first shaft of the future Metro was laid under Rusakovaskaya Street. 20 percent of Moscow budget was allocated to this construction, and the best specialists were enlisted for this job. For the beginning, experts had to choose between “island” and “side” platform location. Finally, the first mode was accepted, therefore Moscow Metro passengers have the advantage of one hall for boarding trains running in both directions. In addition, at that time to options to lift passengers up to the ground were examined: escalator and elevator, and initially specialists favored the elevator. Only in 1933 Moscow Party Committee approved the final plan of the first Metro lines with escalators and island platforms.
Thousands of Muscovites spent the night from 14 to 15 of May, 1935 on the street before the Metro entrances – they all were eager to become the first passengers of the Moscow Metro line that was supposed to be opened at 7 o’clock. This line stretched from Sokolniki to Park of Culture Station. Those willing to use the Metro had to buy a ticket: a red one to go to Sokolniki Station and a yellow one to go in the opposite direction.

Right after the Metro opening one trip cost 50 kopecks, 3 months later the price was lowered up to 40 kopecks, and after that, in October 1935 the new price of 30 kopecks was set for a Metro ticket. People paid money not only for the trip from point A to point B, but also to watch the fantastic architecture of the “underground palaces” as long as they like.

In the wartime the Metro had one more function. Until 6 o’clock pm it worked as usual, and then became a huge air-raid shelter accommodating half-million of Muscovites during the night. In the evening they sold milk and bread in the Metro, the doctors provided medical assistance and movies were demonstrated there. Amazingly, the Metro construction did not stop during the war. In January 1943 Sverdlov Square (now – Theater Square), Stalin Plant (now – Avtozavodskaya), Novokuznetskaya and Paveletskaya stations were opened. In January 1944 the part of the Metro line from Kurskaya to Izmailovskaya Station (now – Izmailovsky Park) was opened along with its stations Baumanskaya, Electrozavodskaya and Stalinskaya ( now – Semenovskaya).

After the war two more part of the circular Metro line were constructed – from Kurskaya to Belorusskaya and from Kurskaya to Park of Culture station. In 1953 the construction ofArbatsko-Pokrovskaya Metro line started, but then the “Leader of all the peoples” Joseph Stalin died. His successor Khrushchev announced the course of rationality and avoiding over-indulgence. Therefore the lines built in the 50s and 60s are characterized with their “dull” simplicity (for example, Filevskaya line and the part of Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line from Proletarskaya to Kuzminki Station). However, under Khrushchev all the stations were equipped by turnstiles. Before the money reform of 1961 that realized the tenfold denomination of the rouble, they accepted iron counters, later – 5-kopeck coins. Moscow Metro in its present aspect took shape in the Brezhnev time. Just then the principal parts of Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya and Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya lines were completed. In the Brezhnev time there was the first act of terrorism in the history of Moscow Metro: on January 8, 1977 a bomb camouflaged as a cast-iron duckpin exploded in the car passing the tunnel Izmailovskaya and Pervomaiskaya stations. 7 people died, 32 more passengers were wounded. Stepan Zatikyan, Akop Stepanyan and Zaven Bagdasaryan were accused of conducting this act of terrorism. They were Armenian nationalists who demanded Armenia’s separation from the USSR. They were sentenced to death penalty and executed by shooting in 1979.

Constructing Moscow Metro continued until the USSR collapse. The last stations opened in the Soviet time, were Yasenevo, Bitsevsky Park, Cherkizovskaya and Podbelsky Street.

In the beginning of the 90s the Metro received no money from the federal budget. A part of Serpukhovskaya line from Savelovskaya to Altufievo Station was launched only at the expense of the money earned by leasing the Metro buildings. Inflation made the authorities to introduce the counters to for Metro trips again. From 1991 to  1997 the price for the counter was increased from 15 kopecks to 2,000 roubles.

At the same time, replacing the counters by magnet cards started. In July 1991 a group of specialists from Olivetti company along with employees from Electromash Unit elaborated an automatic system of paying fare with magnet cards. Two turnstiles for testing these cards were put in 1993 in Prospect Mira Station. In 1996 the new automatic system was installed everywhere in the Metro. At the same time turnstiles of a new model were installed in several stations. These turnstiles made of stainless steel were playing Polonaise by Oginsky when the passenger wanted to enter the Metro without paying. On May 2002 Moscow government approved the program of the Metro construction until 2010 which planned the building of the following stations and parts of the Metro lines:

- South Butovo in 2004
- Kievskaya – Moscow City in 2004
- Tchkalovskaya – Marina Rosha in 2008
- Marino – Zyablikovo in 2008
- Victory Park – Kuntsevskaya in 2009
- Krylatskoe – Strogino in 2009
- Strogino – Mitino in 2009
- Novogireevo – Gorodetskaya in 2009
- Vykhino – Pronskaya (Zulebino) in 2009
- Krasnogvardeiskaya – Brateevo in 2008

In foreseeable future several new types of electric transport will appear in Moscow: light Metro, mini-Metro and mono-rail. Light Metro is the transport system which uses minimum of Metro tunnels and whose most railroad is laid on trestles. A train of the light Metro has only 3 cars, it can carry 5 times less number of passengers than the ordinary train. Its construction price is 40 percent lower and launching the entire line of the light Metro takes the same time as one station of the ordinary Metro. Soon the residents of South Butovo neighborhood will gain personal experience of using the light Metro: they will take it to get to Dmitry Donskoi Boulevard of Timiryazevskaya line.

The mini-Metro differs from the ordinary Metro only by smaller station size. Its construction must cost less as well. Its first line will stretch from Kievskaya Station to the center of Moscow City. Unlike the light Metro, the mini-Metro will be a part of the ordinary Metro, its passengers would not have to purchase a new ticket.

Moscow mono-rail already managed to become not only the most exotic, but also the most scandalous electric transport. Mono-rail resembling huge American Hills side-show connecting Timiryazevskaya and Russian Exhibition Center stations is completed. It has not been used yet, but the gossips about its construction mistakes had spread long before completing the first stations. The matter is that designing Moscow mono-rail was entrusted to Intamin Swiss company specializing on side-shows. As the result, experimental trains engines broke down right after the frosts beginning.

Moreover, for some reason during the implementing the Swiss system the cost of mono-rail increased from 4 million dollars per kilometer up to 20 million. However, even Moscow mono-rail opponents admit its key advantage: it is so ecologically safe that even Greenpeace activists have nothing to say against it.

There are some gossips within Moscow government about future mono-rail circular route connecting the radial Metro lines. However, only Moscow mayor Luzhkov knows for sure what kind of innovations Moscow Metro will have in future.

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov