Construction of the second metro line in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s constituent republic of Tatarstan, has been suspended again. At this time, for two months. Rostekhnadzor found that the construction works were being carried out without permission and project documentation. Over the next 60 days, Kazmetrostroy, the general contractor for the construction of the Kazan underground, has to resolve complaints.
According to the initial plan, the second line of the Kazan underground was to have twelve stations, including two transfer ones. The new line was to carry more than 1.5 mln people per day. Its very first section, the construction of which was suspended, was to pass in the Privolzhsky and Sovetsky districts of Kazan and will include four metro stations such as Ulitsa Yuliusa Fucika, Desyaty Mikrorayon, Stoletiya TASSR, and Ulitsa Akademika Sakharova. As planned, till 2021, a total of 1 bln rubles ($12.8 mln) will be allocated for the second subway line construction from the Tatarstan budget. In one of the resolutions of the Tatarstan government made in September, the volume of budget investments into the construction of the Kazan metro from 2019 till 2024 was estimated at 6 bln rubles ($76.7 mln.) Construction of the first line of the Kazan subway with 11 stations was fully completed in August 2018. The line itself was launched in 2005.
Back in October 2019, it was said that of the second line would be ready for commissioning in 2023. However, at present, the deadline was moved to August 2027.
This is not the first time when the regulatory authorities freeze the construction of the subway in Kazan. The last time it happened in early July. Then it turned out that Kazmetrostroy had no positive conclusion of the state expert board. The inspection was conducted after the workers damaged the water supply system and left hundreds of houses and dozens of social institutions without water. In the winter of 2020, Rostekhnadzor also demanded that Kazmetrostroy suspend the works, but the Tatarstan Arbitration Court issued a resolution just to fine the contractor for 250,000 rubles ($3,1978.) In April 2020, Rustam Minnikhanov, the President of the Republic of Tatarstan visited the metro where tunneling operation of the main line tunnels was started at the Sakharov metro station. During the inspection, he said that despite the difficult economic situation, construction of the subway system was in progress.
Commenting on the difficulties that arise over and over again during the construction of this section in Kazan, Mikhail Blinkin, CEO of the Institute of Transport Economics and Transport Policy of the Higher School of Economics, said that in a city with a population of less than 3 mln people metro construction projects are unlikely to be a priority. At present, there is a little over 1 mln of residents in Kazan. Anyway, if construction of this kind has been launched, the subway can be regarded as effective if it has several lines ones at once, not just one line, i.e. if the metro system covers different areas of the city. In Blinkin’s opinion, building a metro is never fast in small cities, and it can be opened in a short period of time only in large cities like Moscow. According to him, inhabitants of cities with populations of less than 1.5 mln need cheaper railway systems. “Since the decision to build the subway in Kazan was made long ago, new ways to resolve the issue need to be found,” said Blinkin. “This is a part of a long process until Kazan gets a normal subway network. No one promises that it will be tomorrow. Everything will depend on the economic situation in the country, in Tatarstan and Kazan in particular. But, again, a subway system with a single line is very inefficient. As soon as the topology becomes a bit more complicated, the second and third lines are necessary for further extension.”
According to the poll conducted this year by the Tvil.ru service among the Russian residents, Kazan subway stations took the second place in the rating of the ugliest and most uncomfortable subway stations in Russia. The Vykhino station of Moscow metro took the first place. It gained 50% of votes. Kazan’s Kozya Sloboda metro station was ranked the second one with 16.9% of votes. Nizhny Novgorod Dvigatel Revolutsii [Engine of Revolution] took the third one with 12.1% of votes.
As noted by Alexander Zmeul, the editor-in-chief for the Archspace media outlet and a historian of metro architecture, navigation and lighting became a common problem for all Kazan’s metro stations. Navigation is messy, and lighting is dull at many stations. However, both issues are quite feasible. They do not require serious reconstruction of stations or their closure. The conceptual design of the stations is the second problem, as architects were obviously guided by the design of the Soviet subways, Zmeul said. In his opinion, the designers of Kazan’s metro should look towards the experience of the most up-to-date and advanced subways of the world. For instance, Toledo, Naples, Stockholm and Munich.
However, according to the research of the All-Russia Association of Passengers, Kazan’s metro took the second place after Moscow. Experts of the Public Council under the Ministry of Transport of Russia and the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation assessed metro in the Russian cities on several criteria – availability, fare, the opportunity to pay for the trip in several ways and how difficult or easy it is to navigate in the subway.