Moscow’s public transport modernisation

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April 02, 2015
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Vehicles like this R1 low- floor tram presented at the ExpoCityTrans 2014 exhibition in Moscow could soon be a new trademark of Russian public transport © Grigoriy Sisoev, RIA Novosti

Moscow is undergoing an extensive modernisation of its transport system. Although many projects are still in the test phase, thinkRUSSIA looks at some of the new ideas which are piquing the interest of tech-lovers and pushing the boundaries in innovative public transport systems.

Technological advances

Most people might think that London or New York would be leading the charge in developing new and exciting means of transport. However, if you have been following high-end developments in the infotainment sphere, chances are you will have seen the R1 prototype, designed in Russia, of a new generation low-floor tram. It was recently presented by Uralvagonzavod, a machine building company, at the ExpoCityTrans exhibition in Moscow.

The futuristic-looking vehicle with LED cabin lighting, touch screen-operated sliding glass doors, wooden handrails and spacious felt-covered sofas is expected to enter production next year and Russian streets soon after. But it is only one more addition to a wave of modernisation of public transport in several Russian cities, including Yekaterinburg, Omsk and Moscow.

New trolleybus to take to the streets

Earlier this year, Mosgortrans, a company operating bus, trolleybus and tram networks in the Moscow region, announced it would start testing a new form of trolleybus.  The innovative new bus will be able to automatically disconnect its trolley polls from the electric charge and continue the trip fuelled by internal lithium ion batteries. Once an electric circuit becomes available again, and when required, the trolleys would be able to rise and reattach themselves.

Such vehicles, which are particularly aimed at transport needs in historical areas of the city with no trolley wires network, will be tested over a three month period on Moscow streets. They will be able to carry up to 90 passengers, develop a maximum speed of 80 km/h and travel up to 200 km without a charge.

Meanwhile, following an announcement in January this year, Moscow Metro is currently testing autopilot-driven trains. The new system, which in standard conditions will require drivers to merely oversee safety and operate doors, could be ready for use in the second quarter of this year, possibly by May, the same month that Muscovites will celebrate the 80th birthday of the Moscow Metro.

Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov also recently announced that next year will see the beginning of the construction of the first light metro line in Moscow. The costs of this mode of transport are estimated to be five times less than a conventional underground subway and could carry between 1,000 and 2,000 passengers per hour.

Public transport is an essential component of a successful global city. This is especially true for a city like Moscow, famous for its wide spaces and big distances.

These exciting new developments, when realised, should improve not only the city’s visual appeal but also the overall transport experience for Russians and its many tourists keen to see the different facets of this sprawling city.

What do you think of these new projects? What’s your preferred means of public transport?

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