By popular demand: 12 unusual Moscow Metro stations open against all odds

By popular demand: 12 unusual Moscow Metro stations open against all odds
Design concept
The new Belomorskaya station,  to meet Moscovites’ requests,  will open on the Moscow Metro’s Zamoskvoretskaya Line (No. 2) in late 2018. So far, people traveling between the Rechnoi Vokzal and Khovrino stations can see a temporary wall separating the future station from passing trains. This story focuses on the 12 metro stations that have opened on operational lines over the past 83 years.

The Moscow Metro is preparing to open its Belomorskaya station before the year is out. Located between the Rechnoi Vokzal and Khovrino stations, it will prove a boon for people in the Khovrino, Zapadnoye (Western) Degunino and Levoberezhny districts, handling an estimated 150,000 people daily.

Belomorskaya station was to have opened at the same time as Khovrino station. Construction started in 2014 but were suspended because of a complicated hydro-geological environment. It turned out that sandy layers oversaturated with water were located at a depth of 15-20 metres, and that it was necessary to reinforce the foundation of a nearby building before completing this station. The project was resumed in 2016 by residents’demand.

While designing Belomorskaya station, the engineers focus on future metro projects in the Molzhaninovsky District and the Khimki Municipality, and there are also plans to establish a transit hub between metro stations.

While designing Belomorskaya station, the engineers focus on future metro projects in the Molzhaninovsky District and the Khimki Municipality, and there are also plans to establish a transit hub between metro stations.

Belomorskaya station is not the first station to be built on an operational metro line. Once in a while, unfinished stations exist when the rest of the line is ready to open. The priority is to open an entire line even if an incomplete station is finished later. This is how the metro was built in the early years.

On 1 January 1943, the metro’s Zamoskvoretskaya Line (No. 2) was extended from Teatralnaya (all station names as they are now)  to Avtozavodskaya. But two of its deep level stations, Novokuznetskaya and Paveletskaya, weren’t opened right away because the metro’s escalator plant was located in besieged Leningrad. Therefore Moscow had to work on the escalator contract that was fulfilled in the summer of 1943. Both stations were opened almost a year after service began on the new line, on 20 November 1943. A similar situation occurred on a section of the Moscow Metro’s fourth stage that opened 18 January 1944, linking the Kurskaya and present-day Partizanskaya stations on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line (No. 3). The new section’s Elektrozavodskaya station opened 15 May 1944, on the metro’s ninth anniversary.

For two months, people rode past the unfinished Kuntsevskaya station on the metro’s Filyovskaya Line (No. 4) that extended to those days Molodyozhnaya station; and Kuntsevskaya station opened 31 August 1965.  In 2008, this section near Kuntsevskaya station merged with the metro’s Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line (No. 3). The old station became a cross-platform station, and another Kuntsevskaya station was built for the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line. Trains also rumbled past Slavyansky Boulevard station, also part of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line, between the Kuntsevskaya and Park Pobedy stations for eight months until the new section opened on 7 January 2008; and this station opened 7 September 2008. In the 1990s, riders had to wait much longer to use another previously built station. For four years, trains ran past Dubrovka station on the metro’s Lyublinskaya Line, now Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line (No. 10), because workers were unable to complete the inclined escalator shaft due to the water-soaked sand issue. The station finally opened 11 December 1999, rather than in 1995.

Tverskaya station boasts unique Soviet engineering solutions

The history of the Moscow Metro includes some unique episodes. Construction of the Tverskaya station started in the 1930s when the metro system was mostly on the drawing board. Engineers repeatedly revised metro line construction plans, and a section with Tverskaya station was created along with the first metro lines that snaked through central Moscow. For various technical reasons, it was decided not to build the station at this location. And the project was only resumed 40 years later.

Under the Moscow Metro expansion plan, it was decided to extend the metro’s Zhdanovsko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line, now Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line (No. 7), to Pushkinskaya Square. It was necessary to add a station between the Mayakovskaya and Ploshchad Sverdlova, now Teatralnaya, stations.

Named in honour of Soviet Russian writer Alexei “Maxim” Gorky, Gorkovskaya station opened on 20 July 1979 and was renamed Tverskaya in the autumn of 1990.

Although there is nothing unusual about the architecture of this deep level three-hall pylon station, it featured many landmark engineering solutions. The station was built on an operating metro line, as builders faced complicated geological conditions and the high-density construction parameters in central Moscow.

These circumstances ruled out the construction of a separate shaft; nor was it possible to use the one at Pushkinskaya station. As bypass tunnels for rerouting trains along the Zamoskvoretskaya Line during construction were out of the question too, it was decided to lay the tracks straight along the future station’s axis.

Tverskaya station, a classic example of the Soviet Russian engineering school, provided workers with substantial experience in designing and building metro sections in central areas of sprawling metropolises. Various photos, blueprints and calculations used to build the station are included in architecture and civil engineering textbooks as an example of construction strategy and technology.

Vorobyovy Gory, the first Russian metro station overlooking a river

Tverskaya station symbolises the successes of Russia’s designers, builders and engineers. But Leninskiye Gory, now Vorobyovy Gory, station, endured various mistakes. The station first opened 12 January 1959 on the metro’s Sokolnicheskaya Line (No. 1) as part of the Sportivnaya-Universitet section. Located on the lower level of a huge metro/motorway bridge spanning the Moskva River, it was completed quickly. But the engineers used alternative construction standards, replacing metal pylons with reinforced-concrete pylons. This led to mistakes during the installation of the metal rods that formed the bridge structure, as the engineers used salt to cure the concrete faster. This “innovation” caused the rods to rust quickly.

Inadequate water insulation caused regular flooding at the station, and a major flood took place in the summer of 1959. The ceiling started disintegrating a year later, with concrete surfaces also cracking. Each year, the problems snowballed, and the station proved unsafe and had to be closed 25 October 1983.

The renovation project lasted 19 years. At first, trains ran slowly through the deserted and rundown station, and temporary bypass tracks were later built above the Moskva River. Eventually the old station was dismantled and replaced with an entirely new Vorobyovy Gory station. It finally reopened on 14 December 2002. At 270 metres, it remains the longest metro station, as well as the only one on a bridge.

The rebuilt Vorobyovo Gory metro station  Photo: V. Marinho, 15 December 2002 Courtesy of the Main Archive Directorate

Shabolovskaya ghost station

This station’s history and appearance are unusual. Built in 1962 as part of the Oktyabrskaya-Noviye Cheryomushki section on the Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya Line (No. 6), the station remained mothballed for quite a while.

Hampered by a complicated geological environment, engineers had trouble installing an inclined escalator shaft. The station, that was expected to handle very few riders, remained deserted for about 20 years while trains ran past without stopping.

Installing the escalator at the unfinished Shabolovskaya station Photo: Y. Samoilov, 1980 Courtesy of the Main Archive Directorate

The station opened 5 November 1980 after the technical issues were resolved. This is why it has a different appearance than the neighbouring stations, built 20 years earlier.

Shabolovskaya station entrance on 5 November 1980 Photo: Y. Samoilov, 1980 Courtesy of the Main Archive Directorate

This deep level three-hall pylon station boasts a conceptual design that implies radio and television broadcast equipment. Many interior design elements are reminiscent of the famous Shukhov Tower located near the station.

Spartak: A station with a sporty spirit

Spartak station, part of the Oktyabrskoye Polye-Planernaya section of Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line (No. 7), could have received its first riders in the mid-1970s. But this didn’t happen, although this section of the line opened 30 December 1975.

Named Volokolamskaya and Aeropolye by designers, the station remained completed because it was decided not to build a new residential area on Tushino Airfield. Therefore the new section on the line entered service without this station. Its basic structure was mothballed, no hallways were built, no finishing work was completed, and it lacked exits to the surface. Trains using Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line (No. 7) simply bypassed the unfinished station for almost 39 years, as passengers noticed it in the dark from carriage windows.

In 2012, the city drafted a metro expansion programme and started building Spartak Stadium for the 2018 FIFA World Cup near the station.

The station was reactivated in December 2012, with the platform structures remaining the same since 1974. But the hallways had to be redesigned. A new northern surface hallway and an escalator linking it with the platform were built. They also built the southern underground hallway with exits for accessing the street via an underpass. Spartak station and Spartak Stadium both opened 27 August 2014.

Tekhnopark: Surface station with side platforms

In December 2015, this station opened as part of the operating Zamoskvoretskaya Line (No. 2) and between the Avtozavodskaya and Kolomenskaya stations. This is one of the few surface stations with rare side platforms as both tracks pass through the centre.

The station was built in the 1960s when this metro line was extended south from Avtozavodskaya station and was to have been called Park Imeni 60-Letiya Oktyabrya (60th Anniversary of 1917 Revolution Park). But the station never opened because there were no residential areas nearby and almost no commercial development.

In 2004, the original plans were compiled as part of a project for a municipal technology park. Three years later, the station was included in the 2008-2010 plan and scheduled to open in 2009. It was officially named Tekhnopark in 2008 though the construction deadlines were postponed several times.

In the spring of 2013, the city passed a resolution on the comprehensive redevelopment of the ZIL (Likhachev Automotive Plant) industrial zone. The 470-ha area is to receive residential areas, a business centre, parks, a sport centre and industrial facilities by 2022. In July 2013, a general contractor was selected to build Tekhnopark station. Construction began in September 2013.

The preparatory works were completed in early 2014, with workers relaying utility mains and starting the foundation in July. Tekhnopark station opened on 28 December 2015.