Petersburg’s metro system requires long term development program

Underground railway is an essential part of transport infrastructure of any metropolis and provides efficient link between city districts. The deputy chief of the State Unitary Enterprise “Saint Petersburg metro” Arcady Fursa shares his opinion on main issues with undergroundexpert.info

Saint Petersburg’s Governor Georgy Poltavchenko mentioned on multiple occasions that metro system development has a high priority among city government challenges. However, despite citizens’ expectations, there is no increase in the construction rate, with several facilities being closed for reconstruction.

— Mr. Fursa, why does metro of Saint Petersburg, despite all the city government proclamations, lack a required rate of construction? It becomes even more evident when compared to Moscow rate of underground construction.

— The rates of construction directly depend on public funds, the last being in Saint Petersburg not high. An additional point is that metro development is impossible without  long-term development program, as metro construction is a specific industry, requiring special machinery, technologies, manufacturing, high-skilled specialists and experienced workers. As for Moscow metro development, the process is going on rapidly but it is a bit more complicated as it seems from the first glance.  Having really impressive funding resources, about 2 billion euro per year, there are not enough qualified specialists, mainly designers. Even all the specialists from design institutes gathered together would not satisfy the need that answers scheduled times and range.

— How will new law on public purchases affect the situation? 

— Since 2014 the federal law #44 “About contract system in the procurement of goods, works and services for state and municipal needs” has taken legal effect. This statement ensures new for Russian market of public works meaning – “Life cycle contract”.  According to the new legislation, contract with equipment supplier should be signed for a lifecycle of the equipment. For example, carriage supplier should not only sale said items but also take responsibility for them for the time of app. 50 years. Consequently, the schedule should be set up for the next 50 years for the maintenance and repairs of the rolling-stock. Obviously, at some scale it will increase the level of responsibility for the manufactured goods but also it will make contract cost level up significantly.  

Therewith, we should remember that the factory premises usually designed for manufacturing required values of the equipment, with no maintenance areas.  Therefore manufactures have to rent depot or establish maintenance depot at their own plants. There is such a practice in Moscow.

However, these issues can be solved even being not the easiest, but what should be done with subjects to maintenance lifecycle of app. 100 years?  What are the means to compile a lifecycle contract for, for example, new extension of a metro line?  Main expenses can be calculated, but not the inflation effect for a long term.  Not to mention preparation bidding is labour-consuming and expansive process. It may consume millions of public funds. Within this content, taking into consideration metro developed production base, it seems that direct purchase of equipment   (rolling-stock, escalators, etc.) is the most efficient form of implementation for corresponding investment programs.

— Will there be any changes in organization of OAO “Metrostroy” and the State Unitary Enterprise “Saint Petersburg metro” work while working under life cycle contract?

— It is unclear yet in which way this type of contracts will be implemented in metro construction industry in Saint Petersburg.  Obviously, there is a paradox:  if contractor constructs infrastructure facility, it means that in accordance to the new legislation, the contractor should provide maintenance as well. But metro facilities are responsibility of “Saint Petersburg Metro”.   So the name of the organization in charge for maintenance and operation should be specified by the public contract between city and OAO “Metrostroy”. And thus “Metrostroy” has to subcontract us to operate new lines and stations.

— City authorities state the necessity of competitive environment at the metro construction market in Saint Petersburg. How will it affect the rate of progress of construction work?

— Business competition is not the end in itself. Increasing of rate of construction is ensured not only but competition, but public program of city metro development. With current construction volume in Saint Petersburg being low, it is premature to initiate challenges of competitive environment’s establishment. For many decades OAO “Lenmetrogiprotrans” and OAO “Metrostroy” successfully designed and construct facilities for Saint Petersburg metro system, today these enterprises can easily handle required volume of work.

— How does activity of Public sector customer effect development of the metro construction?

— Various tasks regarding development of Saint Petersburg’s metro system were settled long time ago, although projects’ delivery times are responsibility of Public customer service. Also I would like to highlight that besides updating and adjustment it is highly important to take care about developing of perspectives of integrated underground space use, involving private investments. Until prospective investors do not have guarantees, they will not invest, so it is necessary to create required conditions, initiate an adjustment of existing legislation. It is important to involve into work on integrated underground space projects both Russian and foreign specialists, to adapt their experience for Saint Petersburg geological conditions. All these questions are the responsibility of the customer services.

— How would you assess the prospects of Saint Petersburg’s metro system development in the coming years?

— In case legislation regulating underground construction will not be improved, the situation stays dead-ended. To date, the main task is to develop a clear framework for resolving property-legal disputes related to the condemnation of land for construction. Subject to established order, quite feasible to prepare and coordinate a project of any complexity in the shortest possible time, as the vast majority of problems arising during the passage of the State examination, is not associated with the technical and the legal aspect of the project. Besides, it is necessary to ensure sufficient financial support for development of underground infrastructure, financing being taken both from state budget and public-private partnership.

With these challenges solved, city authorities will ensure qualitative and quantitative growth of underground space development in St. Petersburg.