Mayor Sobyanin reported to the President on the construction of the Moscow Smaller Belt Railway and plans for the development of the Moscow metro and suburban commuter trains.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Sobyanin.
Our capital occupies a special place among Russian regions: there are many questions and issues but it is developing well, intensively.
Today I would like to talk about, or at least start a conversation about what is probably the most important issue for city residents, Muscovites, and for economic growth – the development of the transport infrastructure.
Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin: Mister President, two years ago you issued instructions and approved the main measures on the development of the Moscow transit hub that includes all types of transport facilities – railways, the metro and motor roads – both federal roads that approach Moscow and regional ones.
We have made tangible progress over these few years, having built about 400 km of roads over the past five years. These were not simply roads but engineering facilities – overpasses, tunnels and intersections. We also built about 30 km of metro lines but, most importantly, we created the groundwork for construction over the next few years.
We plan to put into service about 30 metro stations in the near future. This is a very intensive pace of construction. I hope this will substantially improve the performance of the entire metro system. About one million Muscovites are already using new metro stations and this is good.
As for the Moscow Smaller Belt Railway, you instructed the Government, the Ministry of Transport and Russian Railways to focus on the intensive development of suburban commuter trains and the surface railway being built in the middle of Moscow. Some 50 km of this railway has always shipped cargo. Now we are building a railway intended for passengers in addition to tracks for cargo shipments. We are building additional express tracks, expanding and rebuilding overpass crossings, and integrating new facilities with radial railways, the metro and surface public transport.
Basically, these are the largest infrastructure projects for a metropolitan city these days. There is no other project of this scale anywhere else. There was a project called Grand Paris, but it never got off the ground due to technical difficulties, management and political issues.
In line with your instructions, we are to finish the main construction work around September and launch the SMBR. The post-launch stage will deal with additional integration and the construction of transport hubs. However, the SMBR must begin passenger service this year. It is a very important project, and I would like to thank you for repeatedly issuing necessary instructions. Despite the economic crisis and budget issues, the funding remains in place and everything is going according to plan.
There is no doubt that this huge project will be completed this year. It will ease congestion on central metro stations and on the Circle Line by approximately 7 to 15 percent. Since the metro in the city centre is significantly overcrowded, this will definitely improve its operation and provide cross-over connections between various areas of Moscow. The railway will be integrated into the metro system. Thus, this aspect of the project is going quite well.
As for commuter trains, we are working together with Russian Railways on renovating the system. Last year, a new suburban service to Zelenograd was launched, which substantially reduced the travel time between Moscow and Zelenograd from 50 to 25 minutes. Now it is possible to get to the most remote area of Moscow in 25 minutes on a high-speed train, which is a completely different story than in the past. Lastochka, the train operating on the route, is the best one available in Russia.
Speaking of which, we want Lastochka trains to also run on the SMBR. The service will be very similar to the ground metro, with high-quality trains. So this part of the project is also showing progress.
Now for the most important issue. In the context of necessary anti-crisis measures, continuing infrastructure projects of this kind creates opportunities both for investment in the economy and the construction of real estate, residential property and industrial facilities. Without a proper transport infrastructure, it is almost impossible to proceed with anything else.
Thanks in part to this, Moscow rounded up the previous year with a positive capital investment figure. The amount of capital investment reached 1 trillion 600 billion rubles. A slight decrease is possible this year, but it is still a significant figure. It is 50 percent higher than, for example, five years ago, thanks mainly to infrastructure support measures.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Now let us move on to other Moscow issues.