The question of building an underground road in St. Petersburgarose back at the beginning of the 19th century. A resident of the city, a self-taught man by the name of Torgovanov, submitted a bold project to Alexander I - that of a tunnel to be dug from the centre of the city to Vasilyevsky Island. The Russian ruler rejected the project and ordered the inventor to sign a pledge "not to engage in hare-brained schemes in the future, but to exercise his efforts matters appropriate to his estate". Other, more developed projects were subsequently forwarded, but they, too, received no recognition.
Many arguments were advanced against the construction of an underground road. The "city fathers" stated at the excavation works would "violate the amenities and respectability of the city"; the landlords affirmed at underground traffic would undermine the foundations of the buildings; the merchants feared that "the open excavations would interfere with normal trade"; but the most violent adversaries of the novelty were the clergy, who insisted that "the underground passages running near church buildings would detract from their dignity". Thus all the projects for the construction of an underground passage in St. Petersburg, and later in Petrograd, remained on paper.
Revolution, Civil war, the hardships of the restorative period put off the idea of building a Metro in Saint-Petersburg for many years. However, the city grew, its boundaries expanded, and the need for a new, cheaper and faster type of transportation was imperative, In January1941 adecision was taken to build a Metro in Leningrad. However, the war foiled all plans. Work was slowed down on June 24, 1941, and soon stopped altogether. It was renewed in the early 1950s, when the city had repaired its war damages.
On November 15, 1955, the first line of the Metro was opened-from Avtovo to Uprising Square; its length was 10.8 km. This date is the "birthday" of the Saint-Petersburg Metro.
The laying of underground lines in such a city as Saint-Petersburg is fraught with many difficulties. The builders had to break through ancient Cambrian clay stone series formed almost 600,000,000 years ago. Not infrequently they encountered gigantic boulders, five and more meters in diameter. The work was also complicated by theNeva-the river had to be crossed 4 times.
The construction of the Saint-Petersburg Metro generated numerous innovations. Among them, for instance, are the single spanned vaults of the deep lying stations Ploshchad Muzhestva, Polytekhnicheskaya, Admiralteiskya and others. The absence of supporting columns makes for freer movement of passengers on the platform.
The Leningrad Metro was highly economical. All its stations are situated higher than the tunnels, as if on little hills. As they leave the stations, the trains go down an incline (power economy), and they arrive on an upgrade slope (less power or compressed air spent on braking).
For the first time in the world subway construction stations without boarding platforms were built inLeningrad. The central hall has a series of niches with closed doors that separate it from the tunnel. The doors of the niches open only when the train has come to a full stop and its doors are in line with the niche doors-just as in a lift. The system was therefore named a "horizontal lift".
The platform less type of station has definite advantages: the possibility of contact between passengers in the hall and the moving train is excluded; 36 per cent less excavation work is needed; the diameter of the tunnel remains the same throughout its entire length; and their most important merit is that they have preconditioned the automatisation of underground traffic. The trains stop automatically at precisely established places without manual operation. Automatic devices slow down the movement of the train much more smoothly and accurately than drivers do.
At the beginning of 1986 the total length of the Leningrad Metro lines was over 83 km, more than 44 stations functioned, and the average operational· speed of the trains was 40.1 km/hr (the average speed of Leningrad streetcars is 16.9, of trolleybuses 16.3, of buses 19.8 km/hr).
Now Saint-Petersburg metro consist of 67 stations (126 planned). During rush-hours the interval between trains in the Metro is 50 seconds-1.5 minutes. When the stream of passengers thins out the longest interval between trains is 3-5 minutes. Two and a half million passengers use the Saint-Petersburg Metro every day.
Currently five Metro lines operate in Saint-Petersburg: the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya, the Moskovsko-Petrogradskaya, the Nevsko-Vasileostrovskaya, the Pravoberezhnaya, abd the Frunzensko-Primorskaya lines.
I invite you to tour the underground arteries of the city and witness for yourself their beauty and efficiency. As you view the Saint-Petersburg Metro you will probably note a diversity in architectural styles, ranging from the majestic, or even somewhat pompous decorativeness, to modest utility. There is nothing unusual in this-the architectural designs of the stations reflect the time when they were built.