Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Metro Station Opens to Applause

Gennady Petrovich, an escalator mechanic, was anxiously trying to flag down a car Thursday morning from a bus stop on Varshavskoye Shosse.

"Do you know where the new metro station is?" he asked the driver while looking back at the highway in southern Moscow and seeing that a motorcade was approaching. "I need to make it there before Luzhkov."

The car stopped at the corner of Varshavskoye and Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya and Gennady Petrovich hopped out and ran to the station’s south entrance. At the north entrance, a crowd was beginning to gather. Trying to talk to one another over the patriotic hymns that were blasting from temporary speakers, they were waiting for Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to show up and christen Moscow’s 162nd metro station, Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya.

City and metro officials called the opening a "great feat" against a backdrop of recent national tragedy.

Chertanovo residents said they were just relieved that the metro station had finally opened and were proud the government could do it in the midst of a chaotic period.

The first train, packed with people who had come to see Luzhkov, pulled out at 9:41 a.m.

"This is a pleasant moment for all of us," Luzhkov said. "The next several days are going to be saturated with these kinds of events. Sadly, these holidays are accompanied by the tragic events that have hit this country."

Moscow celebrates City Day this weekend. Along with putting on entertainment programs and sporting events, Luzhkov’s administration traditionally marks the city’s birthday by unveiling its latest construction projects.

The Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya metro station is the most recent extension of the gray Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya line and is located 1.8 kilometers from the Prazhskaya station. The line will continue on to Anino in 2001 and then to Severnoye Butovo and Dmitry Donskoi in 2003.

The new station and the street it sits on were named in honor of Mikhail Yangelya, a Soviet rocket scientist.

"It’s impossible to say how much it [the station] cost," said Konstantin Cherkassky, spokesman for the Moscow metro. "Prices changed so much during the eight years that it was being built."

Interfax reported the cost of building the station exceeded $120 million.

Some 40.3 kilometers of track, 19 stations and two depots are at different stages of construction. The city puts the value of this expansion project at 30 billion rubles ($1.1 billion). For 2001, the city is looking to allocate 2.6 billion rubles for metro expansion.

In his address to the crowd of about 300, Luzhkov reiterated the city’s commitment to building a light-rail system to serve the residents of North Butovo and South Butovo — two fast-growing regions outside the Moscow Ring Road.

Their transport needs will be somewhat relieved by the station, but not enough to keep up with the rate of growth in those areas. And the stations in Butovo are still three years away.

But for a group of boys who live in the same building on Varshavskoye Shosse, the new metro is a godsend.

"Thank God they built it," said Dmitry Petrakov, 15. "I didn’t think I could hold out any longer. Neither did my parents. It’s good, because now it’ll be easier for them to get to work."

"On the one hand, it’s nice while it’s still clean and new," said Sergei Tomonov, 16. "But soon there will be exhaust fumes all over the place from all the buses that will stop here. And kiosks will pop up."

But as Luzhkov gazed across the expanse of power-washed concrete around the entrances, there was no sign that the puddles shimmering in the sun would be replaced by rows of vendors.

"We cannot ever stop working on the metro," Luzhkov continued. "No matter what kind of difficulties we run into, no matter if we lack the financial means."

The idea of a metro in Moscow was conceived in 1901, but construction did not start until Josef Stalin initiated construction in the 1930s. The first test train went into operation on Oct. 15, 1934, and the first 13 metro stations — stretching from Sokolniki to Gorky Park — opened to the public on May 15, 1935.

Including the latest addition of Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya, the metro now speeds through 526 kilometers of track, and 30,000 employees help transport more than 8 million passengers a day.

Gennady Petrovich, who declined to give his last name, has been one of those 30,000 employees for the past seven years. He was assigned to the position of escalator mechanic two months ago when the station started to operate but was not open to the public.

"It’s more of a punishment than an honor," he said. "You should’ve seen this place yesterday. Dirt and dust everywhere. We were all here until 11 p.m. cleaning up."

The marble tiles in the vestibule sparkled and the curved ceiling arching over the platform gleamed a space-age white.

Mikhail Menshikov, 60, said he used to wait about 20 minutes to take a bus to Prazhskaya, the metro station that was previously nearest to his apartment.

"Look," Menshikov said, "Now I can see it from my balcony. It’ll take me three minutes to get there. We’ve been waiting for this forever."

And after the speeches were finished, after Luzhkov had climbed into his limousine to attend another event and after the crowd of onlookers and security personnel thinned out, pensioner Tamara Lapina was slowly making her way out of the station.

"I’m just so ecstatic and grateful to the government," Lapina said. "In hard times, today, its wonderful that we can achieve something." The Moscow metro's web site.