ua-Kyiv Metro head presents at IT-Trans May 2022 (1)

UKRAINE: Kyiv Metropoliten needs help from the western European transport industry to modernise its technology and operating practices, despite the conflict with Russia, the municipal transport operator’s Head of Metro Viktor Braginskyi told the IT-Trans conference in Karlsruhe on May 10.

Reflecting on his experience of the war so far, Braginskyi told delegates in a moving address that the metro’s ‘dual role’ as both a transport provider and a security asset had been vindicated since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. He explained that Kyiv had been the third city in the former Soviet Union to open a metro, and that the three-line network totalling 68 route-km built to 1 520 mm gauge had from the outset been designed to help with emergency management. He said Arsenalna station was one of the deepest in the world, at 105 m below the surface, adding that underground stations across the network were equipped with airlocks and other defensive equipment to enable them to be used as civil defence shelters.


‘Year in and year out, our staff were trained to maintain the network as a secure asset for the people of the city’, he explained, despite the significant costs this has incurred. Braginskyi admitted that on a number of occasions since he took responsibility for the network in 2014, he had asked himself ‘whether this approach was a bit of an anachronism, whether the money could be better spent on innovation and investment’. However, the events of this year ‘had sadly shown that our approach had been the right one all along’. The people of the city ‘realised the metro was the safest place to be’ when the conflict began.

In late February and early March, no fewer than 46 stations were being used as civilian shelters. Nevertheless, because of the impact of fighting in the suburbs on the edge of the city in the early weeks of the war, Braginskyi reported that only around a third of Kyiv Metro’s 8 000 staff had been able to come into work.

As the immediate threat to the capital from Russian forces receded, Braginskyi said metro services had resumed over most of the network, and that trains were today running at approximately 10 to 15 min headways.


Spares appeal

The operator is keen to use the war as a catalyst to spur investment in the metro, both in the short and medium term. Braginskyi said that Kyiv had been one of the first metros in the world to introduce contactless ticketing, while a phased refurbishment of 135 of its 774 metro cars since 2014 had seen Russian-produced components replaced with products from European and Japanese suppliers.

He asked UITP members for their support in accelerating investment, insisting that ‘we must ensure our metro meets European standards’. An urgent priority is the procurement of more spares from western Europe ‘to replace Russian-made components’, he emphasised.

In the medium term, Braginskyi explained that Kyvi Metropoliten would need funding to replace its rolling stock entirely, since 80% of its current fleet was built in Russia. Credit lines were already being established with institutional investors such as EIB and EBRD to facilitate this aim, he confirmed.

ua-Kyiv Metro head presents at IT-Trans May 2022 (3)

UITP response

International public transport association UITP, which organises IT-Trans, has readmitted Kyiv Metro as a member free of financial commitments, and its Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani said that the same offer would be made to other Ukrainian public transport companies should they wish to join.

Mezghani reported that UITP had currently suspended all of its Russian members; while its office in Moscow remained open, it would only act on behalf of transport operators in the Eurasian region outside Russia. UITP is also assisting Kyiv Metro by publishing a list of the most urgently required spares and other equipment on its website.

‘Kyiv has demonstrated graphically that public transport is not just about transport, it is about literally saving lives’, Mezghani said. ‘It is truly the lifeblood of our cities.’