Moscow metro ready for further expansion 06 Aug 2020

Eugene Gerden for TunnelTalk

Moscow authorities plan to maintain the current pace of construction of the metro across the next several years, amid the ever-growing demand for its use from local citizens. Marat Khusnullin, Deputy Prime Minister of the Moscow City Government, said that at present, more than 70% of Muscovites use the Metro, which makes it the most popular transport mode in the city. The plan of further expansion of the network in coming years will make it one of the largest metro systems in Europe.

TBM delivered by CREG from China
TBM delivered by CREG from China

Current construction works are concentrating on building the Bolshaya Koltsevaya Line (BKL) as the priority project for Moscow authorities. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin recently announced that tunnelling works for the BKL is currently 80% complete.

Marat Khusnullin added that “building of the BKL is the largest project in the history of metro construction, not only in Moscow but worldwide.” The new line will have a length of 69km with 31 stations and two depots, giving it the status of the world’s longest metro circle line.

In mid-June, general designer and contractor JSC Mosinzhproekt completed excavation of the northeast section of the BKL. The 3.5km section was excavated using a 6m diameter TBM at a depth of almost 70m. The drive is one of longest sections of the Moscow Metro built by JSC Mosinzhproekt for several years.

Route of the 69km Moscow Metro BKL circle line
Route of the 69km Moscow Metro BKL circle line

The same has been recently confirmed by Andrei Bochkarev, Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Urban Planning and Construction, who said that despite the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic of early 2020, Moscow may set a new record this year in terms of the volume of ongoing construction works and the number of TBMs operating on the metro works. He reported that there are 33 TBMs in Moscow at present, of which 22 are in operation. Of these, 18 machines have a standard 6m diameter for excavation of single-track tunnels, with another four machines at 10m diameter for single-bore, twin-track running tunnels.

In June, China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), joined JSC Mosinzhproekt for start of construction on the eastern section of the BKL. The two companies are working on the project on the basis of an agreement between CRCC and the Moscow Regional Government.

Moscow Mayor <br>Sergey Sobyanin
Moscow Mayor
Sergey Sobyanin

For excavation of the eastern section, CRCC recently completed delivery of an almost 11m diameter TBM, via the Northern Sea Route from China to Moscow. The machine is designed operate in Moscow construction conditions and at temperatures of down to -30°C. This is the fourth large diameter TBM supplied by CRCC, together with four 6m diameter machines, for working on the BKL project. A similar TBM is working on the eastern section of the Line, while two similar machines are employed on the western section.

Completion of BKL construction is scheduled for the end of 2023.

Yuri Kravtsov, CEO of Mosinzhproekt JSC, said excavation of the metro line is challenging due to the complex structure of Moscow soils, the abundance of groundwater, and the heavy loam, with layers of sand, wood and gravel, that often complicate tunneling works.

Park Pobedy Station, the deepest in Moscow at more than 84m deep
Park Pobedy Station, the deepest in Moscow at more than 84m deep

Kravtsov added that Moscow is a very specific city for any underground construction works. It has a large overburden of sedimentary deposit of four ice ages, which are usually very unstable. These sub-soils are water charged, as the city is built on various rivers, streams and lakes, many of which are covered with bulk sediments. Metro builders are often forced to deal with large volumes of sands, layers of boulder rock, bedrock of coal origin, carbon clays and other similar materials which have been laid down over centuries.

Deputy Mayor Bochkarev said that the Metro has expanded significantly in recent years, adding 115km of new lines and 56 new metro stations since 2011. This year at least nine stations will be built, including on the section that will link the Vnukovo Airport with Moscow city centre. Bochkarev said the new section will be 5km long and will have two underground stations. He added that the majority of modern stations are built by open-cut excavation and are located at a minimum depth of 25m. The existing Park Pobedy Station, which was opened in 2003, currently remains the deepest metro station in Moscow at more than 84m deep.


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