When plans become reality. Mapping out the agglomeration transport system. Mikhail Krestmeyn.15 february 2022

Mikhail Krestmeyn, Chief Engineer of the Moscow General Planning Research and Project Institute.

Any construction activity in Moscow is supposed to be carried out in accordance with the General Plan. Basically, this helps avoid the necessity to make follow-up adjustments or alterations to the new buildings, or take decisions in a hurry. All the new lines of the Moscow Metro that are being constructed, planned or approved for construction these days are envisaged by the General Plan. The actual construction process begins when it is economically and socially feasible.

“The essential part of the Moscow Metro as we know it today was designed by the 1935 General Plan of Moscow, although the construction works had started three years prior to that. I will say it time and again that the radial ring structure of Moscow and its metro has always been crucial not only for the survival in hard times, but also for the development of the city and its main public transportation system. In the 1950s, the launch of the Koltsevaya Line boosted the development of the adjacent territories. Today, the median area of the city is experiencing a similar boost given to it by the construction of the Big Circle Line.

Five years of operation of the Moscow Central Circle have proved that the city needs new circle lines.

The concept of the second circle line as well as of several other radial lines was already present in the 1971 General Plan. The routing of that second circle did not match the today’s Big Circle Line, though: it was supposed to be much larger, so as to almost overlap with the railway ring in the north of the city. Obviously, there was not nearly enough manpower or funding for such a large-scale construction project back in the day.

As we worked on the new 2010 General Plan, the experts of our institute came to the conclusion that the metro system had almost reached its limits. If we had simply continued to add to the existing radial lines, we would have faced the threat of a complete overload. A radically new concept of the Moscow Metro had to be developed.

The Big Circle Line is fit to transport 380 million people a year.

In my opinion, the Big Circle Line is not only the major construction project of the Moscow Metro, but also a truly innovative idea that will significantly improve the transportation system of the whole city. This mega project is the result of a bold, tough and very important decision made by the Moscow authorities.

The Moscow Metro needs additional circle lines; this was proved by the success of the Moscow Central Circle launched in 2016. As we estimated the passenger traffic of that line, a good many experts viewed our numbers with a skeptical eye, insisting that the Moscow Central Circle would not be nearly as popular as we thought. Yet, time has shown that we were right in our ambition to convert the Little Ring of the Moscow Railways to a modern and convenient new mode of transport.

The Big Circle Line will breathe new life into the adjacent territories.

It is evident that a new section added to a radial line connects only several adjacent districts, whereas the Big Circle Line will be beneficial to all Muscovites and to the whole city. When implemented, the project will create alternative routes, that is, convenient cross-connections between various districts. Passengers will no longer have to go to the center to transfer to another line, which would save them a lot of commute time. On some of the routes, the travel duration will be reduced by two to three times. Experts estimate that the Big Circle Line will transport at least 380 million people a year.

There are still quite a few districts of Moscow that are not connected to the metro, and it would be impossible to extend the existing lines up to there. The construction of new lines, be it Biryulyovskaya, Rublyovo-Arkhangelskaya or Troitskaya, was made possible by the decision to construct the Big Circle Line in the first place. The Big Circle Line will become an additional circuit to which new radial lines can be connected. Its construction layout plans certainly allow for that, and so many more districts will be eventually connected to the Moscow Metro.

The Moscow Central Circle, the Big Circle Line and the Moscow Central Diameters will map out the new agglomeration transport system of the city.

And most importantly, the Big Circle Line lays the groundwork for a new integrated rapid rail transport system. The current activities are not only focused on the metro; railroads are also being developed in Moscow, the Moscow Central Diameters being the obvious example. The Big Circle Line will provide new ways of convenient intermodal transfer that will further boost the integration of different means of transport. It will be the Moscow Central Dimeters that, along with the Moscow Central Circle and the Big Circle Line, will map out the new agglomeration transport system in Moscow.

One great example of a successful combination of several means of rail transport is Berlin where the so-called S-Bahn (urban and suburban railways) and U-Bahn (the underground railway system) form an integrated network with unified travel cards and multiple interconnections. Notably, the trains run at fixed intervals, and not according to a schedule. A unified travel card and a convenient transfer system is all that Moscow passengers need. And that is what we are striving for.

The concept of the Big Circle Line is more than a half century old, and soon it will finally become reality. I know how hard the job of metro construction workers is, no matter what section they build, but the Big Circle Line is a very special case. Its unique character is shown in figures and facts. And I would like to emphasize that the construction is happening in the midst of a living and breathing metropolis, right under the apartment blocks of the median area of the city. Marat Khusnullin once said that the construction of the Big Circle Line can be compared to repairing a car while the engine is still running. That is why all people involved in this massive project — planners, architects, constructors and engineers — deserve the utmost respect.”


From “The Big Circle Line of the Moscow Metro”. Newsletter of the Moscow Construction Complex