MCC marks four years in service

September 10

MCC traffic, which runs across 26 city districts, opened on 10 September 2016. It has been integrated into the network of the Moscow Metro and is actually considered its 14th surface line.

Via, learn more about the MCC as a popular form of public transport and its passenger services.


The idea of building a rail ring around Moscow was first suggested in the early 20th century. The construction of the MOZhD (Moscow Circular Railway) began during the time of Nicholas II in 1903. It started operating in 1908. It was not only intended for passengers but freight too. The newspaper Russkoye Slovo wrote the following about the event:

“The construction of the Moscow Circular Railway, which opened yesterday, took five years. Project engineer Pyotr Rashevsky, who supervised the construction, was in charge of the opening ceremony at Serebryanny Bor station, which was decorated with national flags and plants.”

The first hurdle to overcome was how to calculate the price of tickets. This was done per kilometre, and the cost of a round trip could be as much as 3 roubles, or the equivalent of 20 kg of potatoes.

It was no wonder therefore that both carriers and passengers avoided using the new route because of the pricey fares. As a result, there were only two passenger trains per day before WWI. In 1934 the passenger service closed.

MOZhD was gradually complemented with access tracks and infrastructure that ultimately turned it into a freight service.

At the end of WWII, the line was renamed the Smaller Moscow Belt Railway (SMBR). The administration was trying hard to consider ways to reopen it for passengers. In 1946, it was suggested that the route should be connected to the electricity lines. Discussions were resumed in 1952, 1956, 1966 and in the 1980s, but none of the proposed ideas were implemented.


More attempts to reopen the SMBR for passengers were taken after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. One proposal in the mid-1990s suggested turning the line into a railbus route, which did not include power connectivity or any large-scale renovation. But the rail authorities blackballed the project as unviable and pointed out that it disregarded rush hour passenger traffic.

The first really practicable renovation project was presented in 2001. It included electricity and metro connectivity, large-scale renovation and the construction of additional rail lines and stations.

The first agreement on the project was signed in 2008. The documentation was prepared and all the necessary papers were signed and coordinated in 2011 and 2012 and then work began.

The construction of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) took four years. The old tracks were replaced with continuous rails, which reduced the level of noise. The old bridges were taken away and replaced with new ones. The rails were connected to electricity lines. Modern stations and interchange stations were constructed, and the area near the platforms was landscaped several months before MCC opened on 10 September 2016.

It was 54 kilometres long, or half of the length of the MKAD. Passengers could only use 26 stations to begin with but then another five more stations were added over the next few months or so.  

MCC stations are complete interchange hubs, which give access to 26 metro stations and 10 railway platforms. The five-carriage Lastochka trains running on the line are equipped with electronic information boards, air conditioning and WCs, and offer high-speed free Wi-Fi and charging points.

Built as an integral part of the Moscow metro, the MCC was free of charge the first month it started running. From 10 October, metro passes and tariffs were applied on MCC.

“Opening the MCC has improved the transport connectivity of those who live in the districts with no metro stations within walking distance – Metrogorodok, Beskudnikovsky, Koptevo, Khoroshevo-Mnevniki and Nizhegorodsky. Interchanging between different kinds of transport has become more convenient, because there’s only one fare system,” said Yulia Temnikova, Deputy Head of Customer Services and Passenger Relations for the Moscow Metro.

One more advantage of the MCC, highly thought after  by  passengers,  is that it has connected the city’s parks and gardens, including the Main Botanical Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Vorobyovy Gory Nature Reserve, the Leonovo, Mikhalkovo and Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo museum estates, as well as the Losiny Ostrov National Park.

Д. Гришкин. Пресс-служба Мэра и Правительства Москвы

Four years and always improving

The development of the MCC did not simply stop on day one when its passengers started to use it. Within just a year, improvements were taking place to expand connectivity with other kinds of public transport with the primary focus on integrating the MCC with the rail network. In 2017, Andropovka railway station was linked to an MCC station of the same name, and in 2019 the construction of the Streshnevo interchange hub brought Leningradskaya railway station 200 metres closer to the MCC.

The interchanges were designed so that passengers have no need to go outside as they move from one station to another. This helped increase the MCC passenger traffic.

Integration with the MCDs (Moscow Central Diameters) was also high up on the agenda. Passengers can now use the MCC to reach Okruzhnaya and Testovskaya railway stations on the MCD-1 Belorussko-Savyolovsky line, as well as Novokhokhlovskaya and Strechnevo on the MCD-2 Kursko-Rizhsky.

In addition to this, Likhobory interchange hub opened in January 2020, and Ryazanskaya (Nizhegorodskaya) interchange hub followed in the spring.

All these efforts took three and a half years. All in all, this gave Moscow eight new interchange hubs. Today, MCC stations are connected to 10 railway stations on nine commuter train lines. Over this period passenger traffic via these new hubs more or less tripled.

Comfort rules

“We are constantly improving and fine-tuning the MCC infrastructure to make it more passenger-friendly. The credit for most of the changes over the past five years on the MCC goes to its users, who demand good service and accessibility,” Yulia Temnikova said.

For people with reduced mobility there are lifts and platform stairlifts, ramps and wider barrier gates, as well as escalators. All the stations have tactile plates for people with visual impairments. Just like in the metro, Passenger Mobility Centre staff work on MCC stations to help passengers find their way around, answer questions and accompany people with disabilities. Passengers can also use the Live Help desks to get information about the metro and the MCC.

“Using statistical data, we have recently put floor markings in 14 MCC stations to help people locate train carriages with fewer passengers. These stickers can now be found at all MCC stations. The same markers were stuck onto metro platforms in May.

The MCC was often the first to test out new solutions that would be later used in the metro, like charging points. There are also features tailored specifically for the MCC. Like last year, Ploshchad Gagarina and Baltiiskaya MCC stations got heated benches that always stay warm and dry, which is no bad thing when the weather is on the nippy side.

Ploshchad Gagarina has been the most popular MCC station with its daily passenger traffic exceeding 38,000 four years after its opening. Nizhegorodskaya ranks second with over 33,000 passengers per day, followed by Kutuzovskaya with about 29,000.

This summer marked the launch of a project to create a passenger-friendly environment at the MCC stations by installing eco-minded phytowalls. The first was installed at the Kutuzovskaya stations, where the inscription of the MCC acronym is also created out of stabilised moss.

MCC trains

In 2016, the MCC had 33 Lastochka trains with five carriages each. Today, there are 51 trains, and the traffic has increased from 134 to 242 train-pairs per day by reducing intervals from six minutes in 2016 during rush hour down to the current four minute intervals.

More trains and shorter intervals mean more passengers. Compared to 2016, the MCC’s total passenger capacity more than doubled to 2,18 million (double the population of a city like Krasnoyarsk).

More than 485 million passengers have used the MCC since 2016, including over 70 million in 2020 alone. The annual daily passenger traffic doubled from 266,000 to 540,000 people as of the end of 2019, with the record set on 25 December 2019 when 580,000 people used the MCC.

MCC regularly offers new services. For example, this spring Lastochka trains started including quiet carriages where passengers should refrain from talking or listening to loud music. This helps people to try and relax, avoid stress and get an energy boost. This idea originated within the Active Citizen project.

There was also another novelty: green seat covers. They designate seats for people with hidden disabilities who really need to sit down.

Something to compare

The Moscow Central Circle has a twin in Berlin, Germany, the S-Bahn city railway network that includes 16 lines, two of them circular with clockwise and anticlockwise traffic, respectively. Each 36.8-kilometre line has 28 stations. There are S-Bahns in other German cities as well, but no circular lines.   

Circular railway routes operate in many cities around the world and are particularly popular in the United States. Normally they are smaller in size than the MCC and are not integrated with the metro. For example, the 3-kilometre The Loop in Chicago has only eight stations.  Yet another case in point is the Detroit People Mover (almost five kilometers and 13 stations).

"To launch the passenger traffic on the MC C, we used the best solutions in the world. We see it as a highly successful project that made it possible to merge Moscow’s entire public transport system,” Yulia Temnikova stressed.

MCC’s future

The Moscow Central Circle has given an impetus to the development of areas surrounding the stations, where the city is building convenient access roads and implementing beautification projects. There are new bus stops and U-turns and new housing areas are being built within walking distance of the surface transport.

Ю. Иванко.

“We are expecting to open new entrance halls: The MCC Lokomotiv station will get a second entrance hall and the ZIL station – a third. The construction of the Botanichesky Sad public transport hub is in full swing. The interchange will connect the metro with MCC stations, surface transport stops and other facilities,” Yulia Temnikova commented on the existing plans.   

Work continues on the MCD that also has interchanges with the MCC.  The MCD-1 and MCD-2 were launched in November 2019. The other three diameters are at the designing stage. After the projects are implemented, the diametrical routes will be closely integrated with the MCC.


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