St Petersburg lacks money, but has resources and capacity

The Metrostroyitel newspaper journalist talked to the Design Institute Lenmetrogiprotrans General Director Vladimir Maslak at the end of the 15th World Conference ACUUS 2016 in Saint Petersburg. 

- Dear Vladimir Alexandrovich, please share your opinion on the ACUUS Conference you participated in.

- I consider this conference relevant, constructive and detailed. The papers were interesting and organizers provided comfortable working environment for the participants. I was glad to be part of it, to be at such a large gathering of specialists involved into underground space development.

I would like to add that the implementation of such a project of course became possible thanks to the member of the Tunnel Association of Russia, Association of Underground Builders general director Sergei Alpatov’s efforts.

I am grateful to all of those, who supported the idea to hold this international event in Saint Petersburg.

It worth to mention, the Conference was held during a quite difficult economic period and I think that the constructive dialogue between the specialists from all the countries is the best solution for similar issues of metropolises in different places and times.  

- Do you agree that the construction speed of the Saint Petersburg metro does not match the metropolis needs; it is much lower than the Moscow metro construction speed and lower than the world practice?

- Unfortunately, it is and the situation gets worth. Moscow invests a lot into the metro system development, and not only into metro construction. The capital develops much faster; they build transport interchange hubs, real estate and roads more intensively.

Their Major should be praised for the will and energy he invests into the development projects. But Moscow has absolutely unmatchable financial support. For example, JSC Mosinzhproekt, the main Moscow metro design contractor, has 5 trillion ruble worth contract, while we have 20-25 billions at best, it is the order lower.

At the same time, the capital lacks resources while giving money. Saint Petersburg lacks investments, but has valuable sources and capacity.

As you might remember, the new customer was officially recognised at the Saint Petersburg market, the Committee for the Transport Development. The design works number fell by three times. The planning designing scope lessened ten times.

We need to start planning and designing right now to have something to construct in three-five years. But once again our advanced designing reduced ten times. 

What will we have in three years? The absence of projects means delays, JSC Metrostroy (the old construction company building St Petersburg and earlier Leningrad metro) will be searching for new construction sites. Unfortunately, local authorities do not hear us. Previously there was some kind of the long-term planning policy, supervised by the State customer.

By the way, the underground space development in Europe and America has similar standard time period for construction. Specialists in France, Italy and Austria prepare for the construction for five-six years. But the long-term planning is not so affected by the authorities and they have proper funding secured for a long term for underground infrastructure development. 

Moscow metro. Rasskazovka station, end of  the Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya line.

- One can say the advantage of foreign countries lies in their skill to cooperate with the investors accordingly?

- Absolutely! In Saint Petersburg there is no practice of requiring the investor to develop underground space under the site they construct at the surface.  This is a great disadvantage. I believe if one builds the real estate in the city, they must also make the underground parking at least three floors deep, which will be paid off in a decade.

But here we have a common notion that any investment should be paid off in two-three years, otherwise it is not beneficial. In my opinion, it is better to pay more for the square meter than later have no space to park your car.

Additionally, other facilities could be placed under the building: offices, commercial and technical facilities, etc. It is lucrative!

The Chinese investors are ready to participate in the construction of the Moscow metro, if they have several hundred hectares above for lend. They want to build another real estate complex. There is suggestion to build the Chinese satellite town around new Moscow.  Six metro stations are needed for the project. Moscow authorities consider the option, sometimes they decline the suggestions, sometimes they accept. Our investors and authorities are not used to work with long-term money, while eastern and western countries are ready to invest into the long-term projects.  

The question is how to attract them. It is important to create public-private partnerships, to provide land for commercial use and for construction of the transport interchange hubs, lending the land to the investor in exchange for the investments into the metro line constructions. Of course we cannot provide large territories for commercial construction like they do in Hong Kong, but we may search ways to attract investors with special preferences.  

And it is not necessary for the investors to construct the metro lines, the design and construction works may be the responsibility of the customer, the investor is more interested in the land above. The State customer should make decisions like this at the stage of the strategic planning. 

The North-Eastern section of the Third interchange line of the Moscow metro, Electrozavodskaya station.

- The Committee for Transport Infrastructure Development Chairman Sergei Kharlashkin announced the corrected General Plan of Saint Petersburg to be issued in 2018. Did your institute take part in its development?

- Yes, of a low volume. But the basis is still the old metro development scheme, which we justified for the previous Governor. I think there will be no fundamental changes after correction. Nevertheless, we suggest some relevant and practical solutions as part of the correction process.  

Firstly, we still wish to extend metro line to Lakhta, where new Gazprom business center is under construction and many citizens live. It will help to lessen the traffic at one of the metro lines. Secondly, many citizens prefer to live in suburbs now and metro stations at the north of the city require intercepting parking. Personally I prefer to leave the car at the parking and go by metro, it is easier and faster.

It is economically efficient to construct new metro station and infrastructure at the same time, basically at the same pit. I continue to hope that such kind of changes in development practice will appear in the new general plan through public-private partnerships.

We suggest also the following. There is the circle railroad in Lakhta. The future underground metro station is planned parallel to this road in front of Lakhta-Center. The substitute of the local train for a high-speed tram arriving each 7-8 min will allow getting to Sestroretsk in 10 min. There are no obstacles to do it!

One more suggestion: the previous Chairman of the Committee for the Transport Infrastructure Development Boris Murashov developed the project of the fast pace tram from the new metro station Yuzhnaya to the town Shushary. When we finish the metro station, we will have to start implementation of the tram project.

The metro station Devyatkino is the only one on the territory of the Leningradskaya area (Saint Petersburg’area). The rapid construction makes the surrounding of the station the new satellite town with the population of 300-400 thousand people. But it has only one highway connecting it to the city.  Two more similar places have difficult access – Yanino and Murino. I hardy may comprehend such a strategy, building the town around Saint Petersburg without development of the transport infrastructure. 

Architectural and design solution for the St Petersburg metro station Yuzhnaya  (source:

- These ideas are great, but how feasible is it to implement them? 

- Well, if the development of the general plan was supervised professionally and as actively as in Moscow… There are issues, and they grow. The main will be the energy. We need great capacity for the rolling stock maintenance. Our perspective planning goes up to 2025, and they are buried in Lenenergo archives, which is in charge for electricity in Saint Petersburg. When we need the energy, we will have to construct line for hundred of kilometers. Metrostroy works in the difficult conditions. For example they have no funding for the soil disposal. The customer does not comprehend that it is difficult to build without smooth running soil disposal process. And the customer searches for other possible reasons of the delays.  Bureaucracy elongates construction period. And as we all know time costs money.

- Which stations of Saint Petersburg metro should be constructed first according to the General plan?

- Northern stations will be the first. They have been already under construction at Lakhtinsko-Pravoberezhnaya and Krasnoselsko-Kalininskaya lines. We plan to extend the Nevsko-Vasileostrovskaya line with the Shuvalovo station, which will be the above-ground station. It will allow tunneling two stations with the same equipment we use. 

It will be great to extend the line from the Basil islands further, to the stations Shkiperskaya and Morskoy Fasad. There is nothing close to the later, but there will be real estate construction sites in the future.  In the nearest future the tendering competition will be announced for the parts of the circle line as well as for some extensions, including one from Prospect Veteranov station to the airport. 

Architectural and design solution for the St Petersburg metro station Dunaysky prospect.