Parallel universe underground
Station hall of metro station Avtovo on the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line (Line 1) with a dated metro on the left side, Avtovo district, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Some background information:
The Saint Petersburg Metro is the underground railway system of the city of Saint Petersburg. It has been open since 15th November 1955. Formerly known as the V.I. Lenin Order of Lenin Leningrad Metropoliten, the system exhibits many typical Soviet designs and features exquisite decorations and artwork making it one of the most attractive and elegant metros in the world, maybe only excelled by the Moscow Metro. Due to the city's unique geology, the Saint Petersburg Metro is also one of the deepest metro systems in the world and the deepest by the average depth of all the stations. The system's deepest station, Admiralteyskaya, is located 86 metres below ground. Serving 2.1 million passengers daily (resp. 763.1 million passengers per year), the Saint Petersburg Metro is the 19th busiest metro system in the world.
Avtovo is a station on the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line of the Saint Petersburg Metro. Designed by architect Yevgenii Levinson, it opened as part of the first Leningrad Metro line on 15th November 1955. In 2014, the British newspaper "The Guardian" included it on its list of the twelve most beautiful metro stations in the world.
Avtovo's unique and highly ornate design features columns faced with ornamental glass manufactured at the Lomonosov factory. Although the original plan envisaged using glass on all of the columns in the station, white marble was substituted on some due to time constraints. This marble was supposed to be temporary, but it has never been replaced. The walls are faced with white marble and adorned on the north side by a row of ornamental ventilation grilles. At the end of the platform a mosaic by V.A. Voronetskiy and A.K. Sokolov commemorates the Leningrad Blockade (1941 to 1944) during the Second World War.
Unlike the other stations on the first line, Avtovo is a shallow-level station, located just 12 metres below ground level and constructed using the cut and cover method. It belongs to the shallow column class of underground stations. Avtovo has as its entrance vestibule a large Neoclassical building with a domed cupola, located on the east side of Prospekt Stachek.
In Saint Petersburg’s history, the question of building an underground transport system arose several times, the first time in 1820, when the idea was hatched to build an underground road in a tunnel. By the end of the 19th century, certain interested parties began discussing the possibility of opening the Russian Empire's first metropolitan railway system. Almost all pre-revolutionary designs featured the concept of an elevated metro system, similar to the Paris or Vienna metros. However, as was later discovered through the experience of operating open (ground-level) metro lines in the city, such schemes would likely have resulted in a poor metro service. Unfortunately, at the time, Russian engineers did not have sufficient expertise or technical resources for the construction of deep underground tunnels through the bedrock located far beneath St Petersburg. Hence, it was finally Moscow that got the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union in 1935.
In 1938 the question of building a metro for Saint Petersburg (by then renamed to Leningrad), resurfaced again. The initial project was designed by the Moscow institute 'Metrogiprotrans', but on 21st January 1941, "Construction Directorate № 5 of the People's Commissariat" was founded as a body to specifically oversee the design and construction of the Leningrad Metro. By April 1941, 34 shafts for the initial phase of construction had been finished. During the Second World War construction works were frozen due to severe lack of available funding, manpower and equipment. At this time, many of the metro construction workers were employed in the construction and repair of railheads and other objects vital to the besieged city.
In 1946 Lenmetroproyekt was created, to finish the construction of the metro first phase. A new version of the metro project, devised by specialists, identified two new solutions to the problems to be encountered during the metro construction. Firstly, stations were to be built at a level slightly raised above that of normal track so as to prevent drainage directly into them, whilst the average tunnel width was to be reduced from the 6 metres (20 feet) standard of the Moscow Metro to 5.5 metres (18 feet).
On 3rd September 1947, construction in the Leningrad subway began again and eight years later, on 7 October 1955, the electricity was turned on in the metro l. On 15th November 1955, the subway grand opening was held, with the first seven stations being put into public use. These stations later became part of the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya Line, connecting the Moscow Rail Terminal in the city centre with the Kirovsky industrial zone in the southwest. Subsequent development included lines under the Neva River in 1958, and the construction of the Vyborgsky Radius in the mid-1970s to reach the new housing developments in the north. In 1978, the line was extended past the city limits into the Leningrad Oblast.
By the time of the USSR's collapse, the Leningrad Metro comprised 54 stations and 94.2 kilometres (58.5 miles) of track. But development even continued in the modern, post-Soviet period. Today, the Saint Petersburg metro comprises five lines with altogether 69 stations and 118,6 kilometres (74 miles) of track. However, the present state is not meant to be the end of the story. Plans have been made to extend the Saint Petersburg Metro to nine lines with altogether 126 stations and 190 kilometres (118 miles) of track. But delays due to the difficult geology of the city's underground and to the insufficient funding have cut down these plans to 17 new stations and one new depot until 2025. At the same time, there are several short and mid-term projects on station upgrades, including escalator replacements and lighting upgrades.
On 3rd April 2017, a terrorist bombing caused an explosion on a train between Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologicheski Institut stations, on the Line 2. 14 people died and over 50 sustained injuries, while Russian president Vladimir Putin was in the city, when the attack happened. On the same day, Russia's National anti-terrorist unit defused another explosive device at Ploshchad Vosstaniya station.
Saint Petersburg (in Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг) is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with currently 5.3 million inhabitants, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal city. Saint Petersburg is also the fourth-largest city in Europe, only excelled by Istanbul, London and Moscow. Other famous European cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome and Madrid are smaller. Furthermore, Saint Petersburg is the world’s northernmost megapolis and called "The Venice of the North", due to its many channels that traverse the city.
Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27th May 1703. On 1st September 1914, the name was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd, on 26 January 1924 to Leningrad, and on 7 September 1991 back to Saint Petersburg. Between 1713 and 1728 and again between 1732 and 1918, Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow, which is located about 625 kilometres (388 miles) to the south-east.
Saint Petersburg is also the cultural capital of Russia. Today, the city is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. It has 221 museums, 2,000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments. Saint Petersburg is home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world.
Every year the city hosts around 100 festivals and various competitions of art and culture, including more than 50 international ones. In 2017, the city was visited by 7.2 million tourists and it is expected that in the years ahead the number of tourists will still be on the rise. Furthermore, many foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg. The multinational Gazprom company has its headquarters in the newly erected Lakhta Center.