WITH CONSTRUCTION of its heavy metro largely suspended for lack of funding, the Moscow city government has announced plans to develop a network of small-profile mini-metro lines. The use of 4000mm diameter tunnels accommodating four-car trains of 12m long vehicles is expected to cut the cost of construction by half. Top speed will be 70 against 100 km/h, but the gauge will remain 1520mm to allow through running. Design capacity will be one-third of the 55000 passengers/h of a full-sized line.

Tenders are to be called this year for an initial route, which is needed to serve the Moscow City international business centre taking shape in the heart of the capital. The first 2 km linking stations at Kievskaya Square and Kutozovskaya Avenue is to be ready by 2002, with an extension under the Moscow river serving Dorogomilvskaya and Moscow City following in 2003.

No timescale has been set for the last stage which would continue to an interchange with the heavy metro. In the longer term, the city envisages a three-line network, with a circle and two radial routes linking Park Probeda and Nizhni Mnevniki to Lefortovo.

A low-cost option for elevated routes in the outer suburbs is under development at the Yakovlev aircraft design bureau. Two to six-car trains carrying 120 passengers/car would run at 120 km/h, moving up to 20000 passengers/h. Linear-motored, rubber-tyred, asynchronous motored, and conventional steel-wheeled options are under consideration.