Novosibirsk plans metro network buildout 28 Nov 2019

Eugene Gerden for TunnelTalk

Construction of new metro lines for the city of Novosibirsk in Russia is designed to continue the build out plan started in the 1980s and extend the current two operating lines of 15.9km and 13 stations to an overall network of 90.5km and 53 stations.

Existing, planned and build out of Novosibersk Metro
Existing, planned and build out of Novosibersk Metro

Works for the first two lines, with long sections aligned underground, began in 1981 and resulted in two lines of the planned five lines being completed and opened in 1986. The running tunnels, between cut-and-cover stations, were excavated using Lovat TBMs imported from Canada. Collapse of the USSR in 1991 resulted in the suspension of further construction works, until the recent announcement by senior officials of the Novosibirsk Regional Government and industry analysts to begin and complete construction of the new lines during the next three to four years.

Novosibirsk is the third most populous city in Russia, after Moscow and St Petersburg, and is the capital of Russian Siberia. It has the fifth largest metro system in Russia in terms of length, the fourth largest by number of stations, after the metros of Moscow, St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, and is the third busiest metro in Russia, with the annual passenger traffic of more than 80 million people a year. The network includes the bridge crossing of the Ob River, which is claimed as the world’s longest metro bridge, connecting the Studencheskaya and Rechnoy Vokzal stations.

The metro system is also considered the world’s most extreme due to its geographic location, with the average annual temperatures in Novosibirsk falling below zero degrees Centigrade. In terms of alignment, most of the stations are sub-surface, except for the Rechnoy Vokzal, which is located partially above and below the ground surface and connects to the Ob River bridge. According to local analysts and engineers, dense residential development of the city, with its narrow streets and the severe weather conditions, favours construction of subsurface stations. There are, however, no deep mined stations.

According to Alexander Mysik, head of the Novosibirsk Construction of Underground Transport Facilities, a local state enterprise that will be one of the contractors of the new construction works, the new lines will serve some recently built districts of the city, such as Levoberezhnie, which is a planned industrial dormitory district of Novosibirsk. Mysik added that expansion of the metro is now an acute need for Novosibirsk and its inhabitants, as its existing Leninsky and Dzerzhinsksky lines connect only six of the nine existing districts of the city.

Metro bridge over the Ob River
Metro bridge over the Ob River
Existing Berezevaya-Rossha Station
Existing Berezevaya-Rossha Station

It is planned that Novosibmetroproekt and Novosibmetrostroy, the leading local design and engineering enterprises in Novosibirsk, will be responsible for the engineering side of the expansion project, while most of the construction works will be carried out by the JSC BAMtonnelstroy, one of the largest tunnelling contractors in Russia. The company plans to reuse the Canadian Lovat TBMs that were procured to excavate the running tunnels of the two existing metro lines.

According to Grigory Melnik, General Director of Novosibmetroproekt CJSC, while most domestic TBMs cannot compete with their foreign counterparts in terms of speed, with rates of 70m/month, compared to 170m/month in the case of most of imported machines, the use of Soviet-developed machines could still be beneficial during tunnel building activities in Russia. This is mainly due to problems importing components and spare parts for foreign TBMs given current trade sanctions.

Andrew Travnikov, the Governor of the Novosibirsk region, who personally controls implementation of the project
Andrew Travnikov, the Governor of the Novosibirsk region, who personally controls implementation of the project

According to preliminary assessments, the expansion of the metro will cost about RUB4.5 billion or US$70 million/km. Most of the funds will be allocated from the Novosibirsk regional budget. At the initial stage, up to RUB15 billion will be invested, after which an additional RUB10 billion is expected to be provided. Implementation of the project is under the personal control of the Novosibirsk Regional Governor Andrew Travnikov.

Most of the running tunnels for the new lines, it is reported, will adopt the single tube, double track, large diameter TBM design of the so-called Madrid method, which allows for faster construction rather than using two smaller diameter machines for twin tube, single track running tunnels. Such construction is uncommon on metros in Russia, including the Moscow Metro.

There are plans to use some innovative technical solutions during the building of certain stations of the new lines, some of which have no comparison in Russia. These include building of a two-track closed overpass, and installation of vibration-isolation systems on a longitudinal track slab. The new lines will be operated in an automatic mode by special engineering systems. These systems will also control movement of trains, from a purpose-built control centre.


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