The first section of Moscow metro's second ring line will be fully operational in 2016, and the entire 58-kilometer circle will be opened by the end of the decade, the city's mayor said Monday.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin also unveiled a new approach to the construction. The initial plans were to build the line — which the government says is the biggest and most difficult metro construction project in the world — in three sections: first the northwestern part, then the southeastern, then the southwestern. These would have been opened in the early stages and expanded station by station before being linked into one circular line.
Now the intention is to build the sections simultaneously and open them fully constructed.
"We have decided to start [digging] next year at all the sections of the second ring line to ensure it will be fully operational by 2019-20," Sobyanin said during an inspection of a metro construction site, according to a transcript on the government's official website.
The first section — 13 kilometers long with six stations — will open to passengers in 2016, the mayor said.
In its finished state, the second ring will have 28 stations, connecting Moscow's outer districts and reducing passenger numbers on the smaller, overcrowded existing ring line by removing the need to travel through the city center to change lines.
The new stations should not only cut commuting time and rush hour congestion, but also soothe the senses with their elaborate design. "A respectable Italian firm" has won the tender for interior decoration of the stations, said Marat Khusnullin, deputy mayor in charge of construction.