Over the past few years, the story of metro construction in Voronezh has become surrounded by unpleasant details and lawsuits. The administration of the regional center considered several projects of underground construction and even arranged a bidding contest. It was won by the Kinosarg company. As a result, there is still no metro in the city but there are legal proceedings and a new project.
Some Facts About Planning of the Voronezh Metro
The plans for building the metro in Voronezh were conceived in 2017. At that time, according to various projects, the possibility of improving urban transport was estimated in the range of 35 bln rubles ($439,036.5) to 1 bln euros ($1,1 bln.) Among the proposals there was a project by the Japanese company Nikken Sekkeri Recearch Institute. Later, a large Turkish construction company Ittas took interest in construction of the Voronezh metro. In early autumn 2018, Alexander Gusev, governor of the Voronezh region, told reporters that the construction was scheduled to begin in 2021 or 2022.
According to the results of the bidding contest, Kinosarg won the right to design the project and build the metro. The company signed a contract under which it would have to build a metro system of three intersecting lines with a total length of 58.6 km and 54 stations on both banks of the Voronezh River. The cost of construction of the first line was estimated at 48 bln rubles ($602,107.2.) The contractors received an advance payment of over 8 mln rubles ($100,351.2) for their services. From that moment on, the troubles eventually leading to legal proceedings began.
“Igor Berezin's company has spent 11 mln rubles ($137,982.9) and presented us with a beautiful video showing the future Voronezh metro,” public activist Vitaly Ivanishchev commented on the presentation of the Kinosarg project. “It does not matter that elementary spelling mistakes were made in its infographics. The main thing is that the revival of trams is absolutely impossible, and only the metro might save us. According to Dr. Berezin, the first stage, consisting of 19 stations, will be built in 6 years. Of course, it would be nice. But if we take into account the average speed of metro construction in Omsk, Chelyabinsk and Krasnoyarsk, then we will have 19 stations not earlier than... in 2492. Are you ready to wait so long? Personally, I am afraid that I may not make it to that day.
I believe that neither Gusev, nor Voronezh Mayor Vadim Kstenin, nor Berezin, the local main builder of the metro, believe in the plan. First, there are no 35 bln rubles in Voronezh, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will give them to us. However, it is quite possible to take 800 mln rubles ($10,035,120) from the budget for the next year. The money will be spent, the city administration will be changed, and the project of the Voronezh metro will be postponed as the Yo-mobile, Marusya, Presidential limousine, R1 tram and others have been postponed.
“Of course, I might be blamed for killing a dream. They say that Henry Ford and the Wright brothers were not believed by their contemporaries either. However, they were revolutionaries in their industries. That is right, and still there is one big “but.” The aforementioned individuals dreamed of the future and of new technologies. Dreamers of the Voronezh metro are dreaming about the technologies of the past, disregarding the world experience and new technologies of the 21st century.”
As it turned out later, the contractor company was not assessed by a state expert commission. That fact led to the failure of deadlines. In addition, the set of feasibility studies did not get some more documents. In fact, Kinosarg began construction works but failed to meet the deadlines and the construction plan. At this stage, the work stalled, after which the department of construction policy of Voronezh’s city administration filed a lawsuit against the company.
In the course of the court proceedings, the claim of the city hall was satisfied to the amount of 8.2 mln rubles ($102,859.98) of losses and 2.28 mln rubles ($28,600.09) of moral damage, which should be collected from the contractor. Meanwhile, Kinosarg did not plead guilty and filed a counterclaim in the amount of 3.2 mln rubles ($40,140.48) for the works that had been actually completed. However, as the court found the company guilty of disruption and violation of contract terms, it was denied.
While the lawsuits were going on, the mayor's office continued to look for a way out. Additional urban rail transport is necessary for Voronezh in order to reduce the volume of passenger traffic and improve the quality or air. Due to the congestion of city roads, air pollution in the city has increased dramatically in recent years.
New Project, new Plans, and new Forecasts for Metro Construction in Voronezh
In December 2019, the Voronezh mayor's office summed up the results of a new bidding contest for the development of the project and construction of a multimodal passenger transportation system. The new contest was won by the Radar Road Information Agency from Perm. Its optimal costs were one of the advantages of the new project. For their services, the Perm-based firm requested the lowest price amounting to 33.75 mln rubles ($423,356.63.)
Four companies took part in the contest. One of its terms was that the contract price should not exceed 45 mln rubles ($564,475.5.) At present, the agency has a lot of work to do. It has to make an analysis of transport services in the city, studies of routes, designing of tracks for rail transport and optimization of the existing passenger transportation network. The company has to finalize all research works and development of financial and economic model until the end of October this year.
So far, the project exists only on the roadmap. Suggestions are made that the total length of the rail track will be 150 km and it will be not exactly like a metro. According to Gusev, the authorities plan building a light rail surface metro with several underground sections, which in fact means a high-speed tram.
According to the new project, the works to build the metro are expected to begin in 2023. The first line should be commissioned in 2028, and the second line, in 2031. Commissioning and launch of the last line are expected to be in 2035. The rail transport line will connect the right-hand and left-hand banks by two bridges, the Northern bridge and the VOGRES. At the same time, the light rail will be integrated with the railway tracks of Southeastern Railway.
By the end of 2020, the new contractor from Perm will have to develop the project and to conduct feasibility studies. Then the project will have to pass several inspections by experts and to be approved by a government expert review team. Only in a year, the pre-construction activities will begin. Consequently, Voronezh’s residents will have to wait for a metro at least 5-8 or more years.
Answering a question from wek.ru, Ivanishchev said: “There is no point in talking about the metro as long as there is no proper ground transport. The question of off-street transport systems will be vital only when we set up above-ground transport, and if we understand that there are areas where it is not enough. It is too early to talk about it yet. However, even in this case, I doubt that Voronezh needs the subway in its classic and Moscow-like sense. Most likely, bus rapid transit or light rail transport will be enough to cope with the bulk of traffic. In Voronezh they are likely to be quite effective and incomparably cheaper both in construction and maintenance.”