A $2 billion rail project in Moscow has opened to passengers for the first time, with authorities in the city stating that the new line will help alleviate congestion problems on existing transport routes.
The Moscow Central Ring consists of a 55km (33-mile) circle surrounding the city centre and opened to the public on Saturday September 10th – although the line has yet to be fully finished. The country’s president Vladimir Putin was among the passengers on the inaugural run.
It was noted by the Associated Press that the railway is aiming to help tackle the Russian capital’s notorious traffic problems, as the city consistently ranks among the world’s top ten most congested cities in surveys. The Moscow Metro subway is also one of the world’s busiest, carrying more than 2.4 billion riders in 2013.
Many of the route’s 31 stations connect to the city’s subway network, although the AP stated some of these connections have been criticised for poor design, requiring passengers to transfer on foot for distances of up to a quarter of a mile.
According to Russia Beyond the Headlines, the line will be able to carry up to 400,000 passengers per day, reducing the load on the Moscow Metro by 15 per cent and cutting journey times by around 20 minutes.
Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin told TV channel NTV: “We need to break in this system, see how convenient it is for passengers, what problems there are. It’s an enormous infrastructure. We hope it will occupy a worthy place [in the city’s transport network], if not immediately, then in a couple of years.”
Newly-designed trains built by Siemens will run at intervals of between five and six minutes at peak times, and at between ten and 15 minutes for the rest of the day. Running times will be aligned with the Moscow Metro, operating between 06:00am and 01:00am.
Russia Beyond the Headlines added that once the project is fully implemented, the Moscow Central Ring will be comparable to other European suburban rail systems, such as the London Overground, Germany’s S-bahn, and Austria’s Stadtbahn.