To Seligerskaya and beyond: How the metro advanced to the north of Moscow

To Seligerskaya and beyond: How the metro advanced to the north of Moscow
Three stations on the Dmitrvosky radial line, Line 10, will be opened soon. Today the technical aspects of this section were finilised. Northern Moscow residents have been waiting for the metro for more than 50 years.

1957 map shows metro in Beskudnikovo

The plans to build a metro line along Dmitrovskoye Motorway are over half a century old. In 1960, Moscow was expanded to include the entire area inside the Moscow Ring Road. This included Beskudnikovo, Degunino, Korovino and other villages in the north. Some of them gave their names to new districts.

Residential buildings were constructed there, but there was no outbound route. Dmitrovskoye Motorway remained the main road. Originally, it was built as an inter-district street for local traffic.

Beskudnikovo and Degunino residents had a problem. The narrow motorway was the main route connecting a large number of new development areas with the centre of Moscow. There was no metro. Surface transit on the motorway was overcrowded as early as in the 1960s and 1970s.

There was a railway running along the eastern boundaries of the residential area, but it did not relieve the traffic burden. There was no metro near Savyolovsky Railway Station where commuter trains arrived. People had to reach Novoslobodskaya metro station. 

In 1966 the Moscow Soviet’sl Executive Committee decided to urgently reconstruct a section of Dmitrovskoye Motorway from the Smaller Moscow Belt Railway to Beskudnikovsky Boulevard. However, the partial widening of the motorway did not solve the problem. It was necessary to extend a metro line to the new districts.

By this time, the metro line to Beskudniko was in development plans, 60 years ago!

The 1957 Moscow Metro development plans included the Timiryazevsko-Kaluzsky line. Initially, the southern section was started, and only completed after several years. In 1962, the section between Oktyabrskaya and Novye Cheryomushki was launched. Next the line was connected with the north section which ran from Prospekt Mira to VDNKh, so the orange line (Line 6) ran much more to the east than Dmitrovskoye Motorway. 

Courtesy of the Main Archive

General Plan of 1971: Disappointed expectations

Next, the Timiryazevsky radial line appeared in the 1971 Moscow Development General Plan. It was supposed to run from Biblioteka imeni Lenina station via Novoslobodskaya and Savyolovsky Railway Station and then along Dmitrovskoye Motorway to Degunino and further to the Mark railway platform. A branch was supposed to go to Otradnoye. The new section from Novoslobodskaya to Savyolovskaya and further north was even shown on the metro map.

In 1979, metro workers dug a construction pit at the split of the Dmitrovkoye and Korovinskoye motorways. But people living in Dmitrovka were out of luck again. The situation in the north of Moscow was changing. The districts on the other side of the Moscow Railway’s Savyolovskaya Line, such as Otradnoye, Bibirevo and Altufyevo, were growing. They were larger than Beskudnikovo and Degunino. The branch line became the main line. The grey line (Line 9) ran to Otradnoye.

Petrovsko-Razumovskaya station, opened on 7 March 1991, eased the burden a bit. Now people did not need to go almost to the centre – Novoslodkaya or Savyolovskaya stations – by bus. However, lots of buses and trolleybuses would still get caught in congestions on the northern section of Dmitrovskoye Motorway.

Northern district residents had to wait until the new Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya metro line came to them. However, the construction of this line suffered several setbacks. The initial plans to build the entire section from Degunino to Zyablikovo by 2000 ran into the realities of the 1990s.  

On 28 December 1995, after at least a five-year delay (the line was supposed to open between 1986 and 1990), the first section of Chkalovskaya–Volzhskaya Line (without the Dubrovka station and interchange from Krestyanskaya Zastava to Proletarskaya: these were built later) finally opened. To expand the metro to Dmitrovskoye Motorway, it was necessary to tunnel another 16 kilometers.

Students’ prophetic joke

On 1 April 1996, a new point marking Fiztekh station mysteriously appeared on metro maps in train carriages. Many passengers believed it and thought there would be another station built in the north (strange no one had heard of it before!) and started calling the metro to find out for sure. However, it was only a joke and a prompt by Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology students (MIPT, also called Fiztekh in Russian). They also traveled by the crammed buses and trains.

There was no hope that the metro would appear in Severny and Dolgoprudny during those years. Students printed stickers showing the Fiztekh station and organised what is currently known as a flash mob.

The construction of the extension to the north was shelved indefinitely. The tunnels between Chkalovskaya and Maryina Roshcha stations were abandoned. Rusted tubes and flooded pits were what the central section of the future Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line looked like at the beginning of this century.

About 450,000 people live in the metro-less northern districts of Moscow. There are few alternative routes. Dmitrovskoye Motorway was filled with congestion and trains on Savyolovskaya Line were filled beyond capacity. The double pressure burdened Line 9 as well. 

A plan to address the problem was moved up. First a northern section from Petrovsko-Razumovskaya station was planned, which was later to be connected with the city centre. But it was eventually rejected.

It was only in the mid-2000s that workers returned to the abandoned tunnels in the heart of Moscow. In 2007 the line was extended to Trubnaya station and then to Maryina Roshcha station in 2010.

There were three alternatives on how to extend the line to Petrovsko-Razumovskaya station, and the shortest one was chosen. The line, 60 metres belowground, runs under Ogorodny Proyezd and Milashenkov Street, then crosses Line 9 to the east of Dmitrovskoye Motorway and continues north. After 2010, metro line construction accelerated. The first section, 5.5 kilometres from Maryina Roshcha to Petrovsko-Razumovskaya stations, was launched in September 2016. Three new stations were opened: Butyrskaya, Fonvizinskaya and Petrovsko-Razumovskaya.

By the way, the construction of Petrovsko-Razumovskaya station on the Dmitrovsky radial line began at the same time as its twin on Line 9, but the latter was opened in March 1991, while construction of the other one was suspended. The light green and grey lines met at Petrovsko-Razumovskaya station 25 years later. It is possible to interchange from one line to the other by simply crossing the platform.

The final kilometres

The section between the Petrovsko-Razumovskaya and Seligerskaya stations is considered one of the most difficult in the history of metro construction. In order to build tracks through the water-saturated earth, specialists used a chemical freezing technique.

The section has three new stations: Verkhniye Likhobory, Okruzhnaya and Seligerskaya. It is a little over six kilometres.

The new Line 10 section will relieve the pressure put on Line 9, the northern radius of Line 2 and surface transit in the area. According to preliminary estimates, residents in the nearby districts will spend 20 minutes less on average traveling from one point to another. They will be able to reach central, southeastern and southern city districts without interchanges. In addition, the light green line intersects with almost all other lines.

Okruzhnaya station will become part of a transport hub with the same name. It will include a Moscow Central Circle station, a railway platform on the Savyolovskaya Line of the Moscow Railway and bus stops. The hub will also be located at the intersection with the North–West Expressway. Okruzhnaya will become one of the most popular transport hubs and create many alternative routes for people living in the northern and northeastern districts.

After Seligerskaya station is opened, the construction will continue in this direction. It is planned to build another section of the Dmitrovsky radial line. It will include the following stations: Ulitsa 800-Letiya Moskvy, Lianozovo and Fiztekh. Back in 1996, few students thought their practical joke would become reality.