An 85-year story: The Moscow Metro continues to expand

May 17
Construction and renovation

The Moscow Metro continues to expand rapidly, with the number of new lines and stations hitting an all-time high. There are ambitious plans to build several dozen kilometres of new lines in the next few years.

On 15 May, the Moscow Metro celebrated its 85th anniversary. On that day in 1935, the first stage of the city’s metro started operating, and passengers were able to use 13 stations between Sokolniki and Park Kultury, with a branch line from Okhotny Ryad to Smolenskaya stations. Since then, the underground transport system has expanded to 15 lines, including the Moscow Central Circle belt railway, and 275 stations.

The city has continued to expand the metro system all these 85 years, and metro projects weren’t suspended even during the darkest hours, including the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. At that time, Moscow built over 13 kilometres of new lines and opened seven stations. The Gorky radius, the future Zamoskvoretskaya Line and the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line received new sections. The city also started building the metro’s fourth stage, including the Circle Line.

Projects that were launched before the breakup of the Soviet Union were completed in the 1990s. In 1991-1994, the city opened the northern section of the Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line between the Savyolovskaya and Altufyevo stations. In 1995-1999, the Lyublinskaya Line, now the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line, was launched after lengthy construction and linked the Chkalovsksya and Maryino stations. In August 2000, Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya station opened on the Serpukhhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line.

One of the most productive episodes in the metro construction saga began fairly recently. Since 2011, the city has opened over 300 kilometres of lines and 145 stations, including the Moscow Central Circle, as well as the First and Second Moscow Central Diameter railway lines, three additional metro station hallways and ten train maintenance facilities.

Construction never ends

The city of Moscow continues to expand the metro even today, while braving the global coronavirus pandemic. The city has also resumed the construction of roads, kindergartens, schools, residential buildings and other important facilities since 12 May. Metro construction did not stop even for a day. As with the labourers building medical facilities, metro workers were allowed to continue most construction projects during the city’s general restrictions, including uninterrupted shift work. Many other construction and repair projects were temporarily suspended.

It is hard to freeze all metro construction projects because specific facilities would have to be mothballed, and this is a time-consuming process. And it is more difficult to reopen them. What’s important is for contractors to protect the health of their employees. About 13,000 people are now working at Moscow Metro construction sites. All of them have their temperatures checked when entering a construction site and also during the day. Workers with signs of fever or acute respiratory infection are immediately suspended. Ultraviolet lamps decontaminate the air inside various buildings and stations, and disinfectants are used when mopping the floors. Workers are issued disposable face masks and sanitisers.

Bustling construction sites

International transit experts admit that Moscow has attained record-breaking metro construction rates in the past few years. Earlier this year, Guinness World Records accepted a record for the greatest number of tunnel boring machines simultaneously involved in the same project. Under the metro expansion programme, 23 tunnel boring machines simultaneously operated in Moscow this past March. No other city has used so many of these machines at one time. Tunnel boring machines are now grinding new tunnel sections for the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line (one machine), the Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya Line (one machine), the Kommunarskaya Line (eight machines) and the Big Circle Line (12 machines).

Some of these boring machines are stunningly large, with a cutting diameter of over ten metres. This equipment can bore a tunnel large enough for both tracks at the same time, which eliminates the need to install temporary structures or ventilation shafts during the boring of a second tunnel. And one large tunnel for both tracks uses less overall space.

Four of these huge tunnel-boring machines are being used for the metro’s Big Circle Line. Pobeda and Victoria, names given to the machines, are operating in the line’s eastern section, while Lily and Nadezhda are busy tunneling through the western section.

Getting better all the time

The Moscow Metro’s route length has almost doubled in the past few years. The metro continues to opening new sections at a furious rate, and a new record was set in late 2018 when 17 new stations and about 33 kilometres of metro line were completed.

Another record was set late last year when workers built 38 kilometres of tunnels beneath Moscow, an all-time high in the history of national metro construction projects. A record breaking number of stations opened in 2018.

The city opened the first section of the Big Circle Line, three stations on the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line, one station on the Zamoskvoretskaya Line, all while the extended Solntsevskaya Line received seven new stations.

The last time so many stations opened along one section was in 1983 when Soviet metro builders opened an eight-station section between the Serpukhovskaya and Yuzhnaya stations, though it was shorter than the Solntsevskaya Line. The city has never opened such long metro line sections before.


In metro history, a record number of stations were completed in 1935 when the first 13-station metro line opened for service. It linked the Sokolniki and Park Kultury stations with a branch to the Smolenskaya station. After that, 1938 and 1983 were the most prolific years when eight new stations opened, respectively. From 1992 to 2002, the metro received only 16 new stations or less than 2018 alone.


In 2019, service began on two sections with a total route length of 17.9 kilometres. The first four stations on the Nekrasovskaya Line and four Sokolnicheskaya Line stations between Salaryevo and Kommunarka also opened.


Plans call for nine new stations in 2020, and six of them are already in service. This includes the Yugo-Vostochnaya, Okskaya, Stakhanovskaya and Nizhegorodskaya stations on the Nekrasovskaya Line, and a Big Circle Line section between the Aviamotornaya and Lefortovo stations that is integrated with them. The metro plans to complete the Elektrozavodskaya, Ulitsa Narodnogo Opolcheniya and Karamyshevskaya stations on the Big Circle Line’s northeastern and western sections before the year is out.

Short-term goals

The city plans to continue working on unfinished and new lines. The Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya Line will eventually become the longest metro line and will connect Moscow’s central and remote southwestern districts. It will be possible to reach Rasskazovka from Novokosino and to get to Vnukovo International Airport on this line.

Seven new stations, including Michurinsky Prospekt, Ozyornaya, Govorovo, Solntsevo, Borovskoye Shosse, Novoperedelkino and Rasskazovka, have already opened on this line. There are plans to open two stations towards Vnukovo Airport in 2022. Today, builders are studying various options for linking the two yellow line sections in central Moscow. Technically, this will be the most complicated local metro line whose central sections are to include the Plyushchikha, Volkhonka and Dorogomilovskaya stations. The Solntsevskaya Line will be formed by connecting the current Kalininskaya Line (between Novokosino and Tretyakovskaya) with the unfinished western section of the Solntsevskaya Line (between Delovoi Tsentr and Rasskazovka).

The Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line is being extended to the north. They are building the Ulitsa 800-Letiya Moskvy and Lianozovo stations here (Editor’s Note: These names are unofficial), and the line will later reach Fiztekh station in Severny (Northern) District. An additional station called Yuzhny Port is scheduled to be built on a section of the light-green line between the Kozhukhovskaya and Pechatniki stations, with construction from 2021 through 2023. In the past few years, the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line was expanded by six stations:  Butyrskaya, Fonvizinskaya, Petrovsko-Razumovskaya, Okruzhnaya, Verkhniye Likhobory and Seligerskaya.

The Sokolnicheskaya Line was the first metro line to reach the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas. Service has begun between Yugo-Zapadnaya and Salaryevo (three stations) and also between Salaryevo and Kommunarka (four stations). The line will soon be extended 2.6 kilometres to Potapovo station, unofficially called Novomoskovskaya by planners.

The metro will eventually reach Troitsk. The Kommunarskaya Line will be built here in the next few years, and the first section between Ulitsa Novatorov and Kommunarka will open in 2023. Apart from these stations, the section will feature the Universitet Druzhby Narodov, Ulitsa Generala Tyuleneva, Slavyansky Mir, Mamyri and Bachurinskaya stations whose names are yet unofficial. The city also plans to open a short section between Sevastopolsky Prospekt and Ulitsa Novatorov in 2023. The last section of the Kommunarskaya Line is to open in 2024-2025. According to designers, it will accommodate six stations, including Sosenki, Voskresenskoye (Rakitki), Desna, Desenovskoye, Vatutinki and Troitsk (Editor’s Note: These are also unofficial station names). After that, the line is to snake towards Nizhegorodskaya station on the Kozhukhovskaya Line, thereby linking the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas with the city’s eastern districts.

The Big Circle Line remains the most ambitious project in the history of the Moscow Metro and in global metro construction. The first section with the Petrovsky Park, CSKA, Khoroshovskaya, Shelepikha and Delovoi Tsentr stations opened in February 2018, and Savyolovskaya station opened in December 2019. A section between Aviamotornaya and Lefortovo opened in March 2020. There are plans to complete tunnels in all of the line’s sections throughout 2021.

Overall, the 70-kilometre Big Circle Line will have 31 stations and two new train maintenance facilities. It will link current and future radial lines ten kilometres from today’s Circle Line. This will reduce congestion at stations within the Big Circle Line’s perimeter and the Circle Line. Passengers will be able to change to 23 stations on other lines, as well as to four stations on the Moscow Central Circle, six stations on the first two Moscow Central Diameters, and to 11 railway stations.

The city will also start building two new metro lines, the Biryulyovskaya and Rublyovo-Arkhangelskaya lines, later this year. The first line will link the Big Circle Line with Biryulyovo Vostochnoye (Eastern) and Zapadnoye (Western) and the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas. The first section with nine stations will start from the former ZIL industrial zone, and will include a change point for the Moscow Central Circle. Trains will then reach Andropov Prospekt. The station will be located near the Ostrov Mechty (Dream Island) themed park and Tekhnopark station on the Zamoskvoretskaya Line. Builders will install turnarounds while designing the station at the former ZIL industrial zone and will also retain a route for extending the Biryulyovskaya Line towards central Moscow.

The next section will be laid towards Nagartinsky Zaton (Boat-Yard) beneath the Moskva River, and will connect with Klenovy Bulvar station on the Big Circle Line and will eventually reach Tsaritsyno. In Bryulyovo Vostochnoyee, a metro station will merge with a transit hub on Lipetskaya Street, and another station will be located in Vostryakovsky Proyezd in Biryulyovo Zapadnoye. The first section is to start operating in 2024-2025. The line is to reach Shcherbinka by 2028.

The first section of the Rublyovo-Arkhangelskaya Line is also expected to open in 2024-2025. Its stations will have the following, as yet unofficial, names: Shelepikha, Presnya, Ulitsa Narodnogo Opolcheniya, Bulvar Generala Karbysheva, Zhivopisnaya and Strogino. Passengers will be able to change to the Big Circle Line and the Moscow Central Circle at Shelepikha. Three other stations, including Troitse-Lykovo, Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye and Ilyinskaya, are to be completed by 2028.

Moscow ranks among the world’s top metro builders. The city sees metro development as a highly important infrastructure programme. Never before has the capital built its metro lines at such a breathtaking pace. Total route length is to exceed 450 kilometres by 2022. Ambitious plans to allow 90 percent of city residents to use the capital’s fastest transport system are quite real and feasible. In 2015, the metro reached the Troitsky and Novomoskovsky administrative areas when the Rumyantsevo station opened. And new metro lines will connect the more remote districts in the next few years. This will make their residents happy after waiting decades for metro service.


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