Filyovskaya metro line: Interesting facts passengers may not know

Filyovskaya metro line: Interesting facts passengers may not know
Fili metro station. Photo by A. Zhilyakov. 1968
Many Muscovites call the Filyovskaya Line (Light Blue Line) one of the most unusual, if not their favourite line. It follows the twists and turns of a former riverbed towards a residential area with developed infrastructure that sprawls in the west of Moscow. As opposed to the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya (Dark Blue Line) that leads to the world of high-tech. looks at both metro lines as they are now and as they were in the past.

The ongoing work to upgrade the Light Blue Line’s surface level section is the most ambitious project in its history. The metro stations built to mid-20th century standards will get new structures that will replace the old ones, which are almost 60 years old. The entrance halls have been redesigned and will be expanded to accommodate lifts while the platforms are being rebuilt. This is done to give the line a modern image and make it more convenient for passengers and functional for many years to come.

Interesting facts that few notice

— The Filyovskaya Line is the only line in the Moscow Metro that is largely a surface line. The entire line between the Aleksandrovsky Sad station and the Kuntsevskaya station is 12.1 kilometres long and the Mezhdunarodnaya branch is 2.8 kilometres long. The length of the surface section is about 8 kilometers. Seven of the Light Blue Line’s 13 stations were built at surface level.

— The Light Blue Line was conceived as an experiment. Plans were to build similar surface level lines to connect central Moscow with the towns in Moscow’s immediate suburb.

— The surface level section occasionally follows the former Filka River bed which now flows through an underground pipe.

— Over 550,000 people live within two kilometers of Light Blue Line stations. Over 3 billion passengers have travelled on the line since it entered service.

— The Aleksandrovsky Sad-Smolenskaya section, which is sometimes called Staroarbatsky, was part of the first phase of the Moscow Metro. It was unveiled on the same day as the rest of the first phase, that is, on 15 May 1935. Trains ran from the Sokolniki station to Okhotny Ryad where the track diverged into two lines – one continued straight to the Park Kultury station and the other branched off towards the Smolenskaya station. This service existed until 13 March 1938.

— Moscow and Russia’s first pedestrian underpass was built at the former entrance to the Sokolniki station. The entrance hall was located almost in the middle of the present-day Garden Ring (there was a boulevard in its place in 1935), but it was there for only two years. In 1937–1939, the street was widened, the entrance hall was lowered and the hallways leading to the metro station were extended in both directions to connect both sides of the Garden Ring to convert them into a pedestrian underpass, which exists without access to the metro;

— On 20 March 1937, Filyovskaya Line trains started running on Moscow’s first metro bridge, which was named Smolensky. It can be seen it in many movies. For example, Dima Samokhvalov, a character from the famous 1966 movie Beware of the Car, keeps his Volga car in a garage near the metro bridge. It was there that the car caught the eye of the main character, Yury Detochkin. The movie shows the bridge in its original form, that is, before the southwest grade was covered by noise shielding.

— Between 1938 and 1953, the Aleksandrovsky Sad–Kiyevskaya section was part of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line. Trains ran from Kurskaya station – and after 1944 [after the line was extended] from today’s Partizanskaya station – to the Ploshchad Revolyutsii station and then (underground) to Aleksandrovsky Sad to the shallow level Kiyevskaya station.

— During the Great Patriotic War [1941–1945] the metro was used as a bomb shelter to protect people from Nazi air strikes. On the night of 22–23 July 1941, a bomb hit the shallow level tunnel between the Arbatskaya station and the Smolenskaya station. There was no train service at the time but there were victims among those who were taking cover in the tunnel. An air strike also damaged the Smolensky Metro Bridge in 1941. The patched hole in the tunnel’s covering has survived to this day and train drivers on the Light Blue Line can see it.

— After the war, it was decided to build a deep level twin link to the Kiyevskaya station under the Moskva River. The new stations – Arbatskaya, Smolenskaya and Kiyevskaya – were built at a depth of 38 to 50 metres. On 5 April 1953, Dark Blue Line service was shifted to this parallel section and the shallow level link to Kiyevskaya station was closed.

— From 1953 to 1958, closed shallow level stations were used for storage and exhibition space. The tracks at the Arbatskaya and Smolenskaya stations were boarded off and exhibit stands were installed. Old carriages were kept in the tunnels: many of them had been brought from the Berlin Metro as a trophy when the war ended. The Aleksandrovsky Sad–Kiyevskaya track section was used to test renovated carriages and new rolling stock.

— In 1958, this mothballed section was brought back into service as a second link between Moscow’s centre and the west of the city. The Arbatsko-Filyovskaya Line was opened on 7 November 1958. Initially, the service ran from the Aleksandrovsky Sad station to the Kutuzovskaya station and a year later the line was extended to the Fili station. In 1965, the line was extended to the Molodyozhnaya station and in 1989 to the Krylatskoye station. The Filyovskaya Line we are accustomed to seeing on the Moscow Metro map has existed since 7 January 2008, when the section beyond the Kuntsevskaya station was converted to the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line;

— All seven surface level stations on the Filyovskaya Line were designed by architect Rimidalv Pogrebnoi (his parents, passionate revolutionaries, gave their son Lenin’s name, but in reverse– from right to left). The line opened at a time when the fight against extravagance was at a boil, so the line’s surface level stations look somewhat unsophisticated. In part, they reflect styles from the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920s-1930s and European functionalism.

— The platforms in the line’s surface level stations are shorter than those at other Moscow Metro stations. Thus, the trains on the line have never had more than six carriages. Today, articulated Rusich carriages run on the line, which are longer than standard carriages. These trains consist of four articulated carriages. Since the Rusich trains were also developed for the metro’s surface level lines, they have ventilation and heating systems.

— The current upgrade of the surface level section is the first of its kind in the Filyovskaya Line’s history. Over the 60 years of operation, 70 percent of the stations’ structural and engineering components have aged.

— Passengers know that trains for the Kuntsevskaya station leave from the near platform at the Aleksandrovsky Sad station and if they want to get to the Moscow City Business Centre, they use an overpass or underpass to get to the far platform. Filyovskaya is Moscow’s only line running branch service.

— The Light Blue Line’s three terminal stations are unique in that they do not have a dead end with a turnaround. Passengers do not necessarily have to disembark from the train at a terminal station as the train will leave in a few minutes in the opposite direction. During the ongoing work to upgrade the line, this is the only opportunity for passengers to get to the Pionerskaya station as outbound trains from the centre do not stop there and passengers have to go to the Kuntsevskaya station and then return to Pionerskaya without leaving the train.

— In 2006, French architects designed the entrance to the Kiyevskaya station in the style of the Paris Metro. In response, the Madeleine metro station in Paris was designed with stained glass, Kurochka Ryaba [Ryaba the Hen], carrying the inscription Moscow Metro.

— The tracks beyond the Aleksandrovsky Sad station that link it to the Ploshchad Revolyutsii station are still there. Dark Blue Line trains that leave the Fili maintenance facility for the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line regularly use these tracks.

— The branch line service that existed in 1935–1938 can never be resumed as one of the tunnels between the Aleksandrovsky Sad station and the Okhotny Ryad station was destroyed in the mid-1990s during the construction of the Okhotny Ryad shopping mall under Manezhnaya Square.

— Until 2011, only the Filyovskaya Line featured metro stations with picturesquely curved platforms, including the Aleksandrovsky Sad, Kutuzovskaya, Vistovochnaya and Mezhdunarodnaya stations. Only recently another two curved stations were added to the metro – Zyablikovo on the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line and Pyatnitskoye Shosse on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line;

— All of the Moscow Metro’s underground stations have island platforms, except the Aleksandrovsky Sad station, because during its construction it was extremely difficult to separate the tracks in the narrow space between the Kremlin’s Kutafya Tower and the Manezh building.

— For 71 years, the metro’s shortest tunnels were on the Aleksandrovsky Sad–Arbatskaya section: the distance between the two stations’ middle axes is 515 metres. In 2006, after the construction of two new stations on the Light Blue Line, this record was broken, with the distance between the middle axis of the Vystavochnaya station and that of the Mezhdunarodnaya station being 498 metres, while the length of the tunnels between the platforms is even less – a mere 379 metres.

— The Kuntsevskaya station is the metro’s only surface level station where passengers can change to another line. In a few years it will be the only station with an underground and surface level interchange to another line. The underground Mozhaiskaya station on the Third Interchange Circuit will open next to the Kuntsevskaya station.

— It is well-known that the Studencheskaya station cannot be reached by public transport. Between 1983 and 2002 it was the only such station in Moscow, although it is located much closer to the city centre than the Vorobyovy Gory, Lesoparkovaya and Spartak stations.

— The Arbatskaya station has long since had a cafeteria for train operators, which also serves to passengers. The metro has only two cafeterias of this type, the other being located at the Voikovskaya station. In 2016, the cafeteria was renovated in a retro style.

— The Vystavochnaya station built in the central part of the Moscow City Business Centre is Moscow’s first metro station with a high-tech interior design. Riders can visit the Metro Gallery located on the second level.

— The Vystavochnaya station is a home to the Moscow Metro’s Vocational Guidance Centre. This is, in fact, a metro museum, where employees share their experience of working in the metro, with an emphasis on the specifics of their work, where the visitors are children for the most part. Visitors can also see various engineering devices installed in metro tunnels, models of carriage equipment and other interesting exhibits which are normally out of reach to passengers. Visitors can even take a ride on a new-generation train simulator.