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Prospects for the development of the metro in the regions of Russia - passenger flows, revenues and expenses

Tags: Transport | Passenger flow | Metro | Deindustrialization | Economy | Urban studies | Nizhniy Novgorod | Samara | Novosibirsk | Ekaterinburg | Kazan | Kharkov | Millionaire city

In 2018, 17 new metro stations were opened in Moscow - a record in history. In the provincial million-plus cities, only 22 new stations were opened over the entire XXI century. Moreover, 11 of them are in Kazan, where the metro was opened from scratch - to celebrate the millennium of the city and the Universiade. All the rest are moving at a snail's speed - about one new station in 10 years. About the prospects of the metro in the Russian regions - in this article.

Today, in Russia, the metro operates in 7 cities. In addition to Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the subway covered more or less all areas of the city and even went beyond them, these are Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Yekaterinburg and Samara. In these cities, from 9 to 15 stations operate (from one to two lines), while periodically updated general plans require increasing this number by at least two times, and in many densely populated areas the metro is absent in principle. As of 2019, the active construction of new stations has been stopped everywhere. The situation with the construction of the metro in other Russian million-plus cities is even worse - in Omsk the only station built operates in an underpass mode, in Krasnoyarsk it was decided to fill the already constructed tunnels with sand to reduce maintenance costs, in Chelyabinsk for the construction of the first branch of three stations microscopic amounts are allocated per year.

In Soviet times, there was an unwritten rule - every city with a million population has the right to build a metro. Metro meant the prestige and special status of the city.

Even before the russian millionaires, the capitals of the most important national USSR republics - Kiev, Minsk, Baku, Tbilisi, Tashkent, Yerevan - and also Kharkov received the subway. However, even immediately after the collapse of the USSR, despite the difficult economic situation, the center continued to finance the construction of subways. In the period 1992-1994, 10 metro stations were built in Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Yekaterinburg. In 1996, for the first time, it was clearly enshrined in law that funding for the metro is carried out by the federal budget and the regional budget in equal proportions, in 2001 the share of the federal budget was reduced to 20%. In 2007, against the backdrop of unprecedented economic growth, Russian Railway agency tried to promote the large-scale program “Development of subways in cities of the Russian Federation for 2010-2015”, which suggested an old “50 by 50” financing scheme and 89 new stations. But the regions themselves opposed the program - they even at the peak of the economy did not have the means to pull their share of the program.

The decisive event happened at the end of 2009 - subsidies to the regions to support metro construction was excluded from the new budget for 2010 - the regions were offered to build the metro at their own expense

After that, the federal financing of the provincial metro construction was carried out manually. Nizhny Novgorod received small federal funds for the construction of the Gorkovskaya as part of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Nizhny Novgorod militia (just the corresponding holiday was recently instituted instead of the anniversary of the Communist Revolution), as well as Samara to complete the construction of the Alabinskaya station. 14 billion for Novokrestovskaya and 6 billion for Strelka were received respectively St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod for the 2018 Football World Cup - in both cases, stations were built in close proximity to football stadiums. Even the three Kazan metro stations (Yashlek, Severny Vokzal, Aviastroitelnaya), introduced in 2013 under the Universiade in order to connect the new city railway station with the village where the athletes lived, were built by Tatarstan at the expense of repayable budget loans .

Metro is not a transport framework of a city

Traditionally, the subway is being built to provide long-distance intercity transportation and link the whole city together. But in Russian millionaires, it is far from a skeleton, but just one of many modes of transport. This is clearly seen if you look at its share in the total passenger traffic of the city and the number of stations compared to the number planned by the cities General Plan:

Built Stations According to the general plan Share in passenger traffic,% Passenger traffic per year, million people (2017)
Nizhny Novgorod 15 35 7% 27.6
Novosibirsk 13 51 18% 80.2
Kazan 11 25 N / A 26.3
Samara 10 34 5% 14.1
Yekaterinburg 9 29 15% 48.9

One can relate to the numbers of stations “according to the general plan” with a certain degree of irony - regional authorities like to redraw circuits for various electoral events, add new stations and lines to them, talk about a bright future and new metro bridges in the year 20XX. But these data do not negate the fact that subway coverage in provincial cities is extremely small. For comparison, in Moscow, which is almost completely covered by metro stations, the share of the subway in all passenger traffic is about 45%. Of course, this indicator is affected by the average distance of movement around the city - but even with this in mind, the difference is huge.

Metro in Russian millionaires was designed and built mainly in the 80s and in the early 90s - under the then existing structure of cities and passenger flows.

Passenger traffic of the Nizhny Novgorod metro, million pass per year

Passenger traffic of the Nizhny Novgorod metro, million pass per year

The Nizhny Novgorod metro was built to meet the needs of the Gorky Automobile Plant - in order to carry numerous workers from the suburbs to it. Its maximum annual passenger flow of 60 million people was achieved in 1990 - just the next year after the opening of all the stations located next to the plant walkways, while there were only 10 stations in the subway. At rush hour, the subway was not crowded. In the early 2000s, the plant ran into general automation of production, which reduced the number of employees of the plant by more than 2.5 times. Along with this, the passenger flow of the subway also fell - it is now 3 times less than its peak values ​​of the early 1990s, despite the appearance of 5 new stations over this period.

In a similar way, they decided to build the Samara Metro from industrial Bezymyanka and Yungorodok (at this place many aircraft plants and other industrial enterprises were assembled) and gradually pull it to the city center - to the merger Samara and Volga rivers. Since the construction began later than in the Nizhniy Novgorod, by the time of the collapse of the USSR did not even have time to finish the first line. The Rossiyskaya and Alabinskaya stations, which were introduced with great difficulty in 2007 and 2014, respectively (and operating in shuttle mode), still do not reach the city center for about two kilometers. Moreover, the Samara metro, unlike the Nizhny Novgorod metro, is not connected with the railway station (the station near the station is provided only in the second line project). The fall in employment at Bezymyanka industrial enterprises finally finished off the passenger flow of the metro already in the 2000s.

The presented diagram clearly shows that the Samara Metro passes far from the most densely populated areas of the city - the passage of the metro line is marked in black:

Metro and population density in Samara

Metro and population density in Samara

As a result, we get the most problematic metro in Russia - in the post-Soviet space, things are worse, perhaps only in Yerevan and the Dnieper. In these cities you can easily find residents who have lived here all their lives and have never used the metro. Tourists who come here are usually unaware of the existence of the metro in Samara. The situation is aggravated by a poorly thought out system of exits from the metro - for example, the exit from Rossiyskaya is located away from the large Lenin Avenue.

Opening new stations does not improve the situation

In the conditions when there are obviously not enough stations to claim break-even, and money for opening full-fledged launch complexes from several stations is simply not available, the regions continue to try to build stations individually. But the problem is also that the construction of a single station often does not lead to an increase in the operating income of the subway, but to its decrease.

Each new station involves additional costs for the maintenance of the station and tracks. The increase in costs from the new station depends to the greatest extent on the length of the distillation tunnel to the station (energy costs, maintenance of the track section, etc.), plus some fixed costs for the maintenance of the station premises. The amount of additional costs will vary, but in general, you can use an approximate estimate of 100 million rubles for an additional station (calculated on the basis of statements from the accounting reports of regional subways).

The increase in revenue is highly dependent on the additional passenger flow that the metro receives. The opening of Strelka in Nizhny Novgorod, located near the stadium, will actually increase the passenger flow of the metro by only 2 million people a year, which is equivalent to about 50 million additional revenue from passengers at the current tariff.

As a result, the new station only moves the Nizhny Novgorod metro away from operating breakeven.

It is located in a wasteland near the new football stadium. In order to reach the metro to the main residential areas of the Meshcherskoye Lake district, the construction of another station, the Volga, is required. But the city has no money for this in the foreseeable future. As a result, the city and its leadership made a fool of themselves, knocking out federal funding for a major sporting event and starting to pull a new mark in a large district, but only halfway and received additional losses to the city treasury and another unfinished subway appendix for the medium term.

Strelka metro station in Nizhny Novgorod

Strelka metro station in Nizhny Novgorod

A similar (but not the same) situation has developed with Dubravnaya, the final station of the 1st line of the Kazan metro. The station was opened in 2018 at a distance of less than a kilometer from the already existing Prospect Pobedy station and, in fact, simply takes part of the passenger traffic from the neighboring station without significantly affecting the total volume of traffic (and revenues) of the subway. The station is seen by the authorities as a reserve for the future - a transfer to the planned 2nd line should be organized at it. But without federal co-financing, plans to build a second line are quite vague - which means that operating expenses for maintenance will rise without a corresponding increase in income. The budget will have to pay extra money for comfort of residents, who can shorten their journey to the metro. Note that there is no new information on the passenger flow of the Kazan metro yet - which means that our assumptions cannot yet be confirmed by reliable statistics.

Passengers choose ground transportation

Another problem - passengers, all other things being equal, do not tend to descend into the subway and like to travel by ground transport. For example, if you take buses #34 or #41 in Samara, you will surely see people who enter the bus, for example, at the Gagarinskaya metro station, and get off at the Sovetskaya or Bezymyanka metro stations. You can understand them - the travel time is almost the same, but in the subway you need 1) to go down to the station (which is problematic for low-mobility categories) 2) wait for the train itself. The minimum interval for metro trains in Samara is 10 minutes - this is usually comparable to big bus intervals, but inferior to mini bus intervals. Therefore, it is difficult to be surprised that when traveling over relatively short distances (and given the small metro coverage, there is no way to travel long distances), people prefer land transport.

A paradoxical situation has developed in the Nizhny Novgorod metro. In 2012, metro bridge through the Oka river was opened, and Gorkovskaya station was opened - the first in the historic center of the city. It was supposed to connect two large-populated districts, in which there was previously a metro (Avtozavodsky and Leninsky) with the historical center of the city and its many offices and universities. In the first year after the opening, officials joyfully reported a third increase in passenger traffic (although they had almost promised a doubling before). Meanwhile, several transport projects were implemented in the city, which improved the transport accessibility of the historical center and partially eliminated the problem of numerous traffic jams. As a result, in subsequent years, the volume of metro traffic gradually crawled down and in 2017 was already lower than before the opening of the important Gorkovskaya station.

The leadership of many regional subways, cornered by constant losses, seeks to optimize its costs. In addition to relatively harmless methods, such as saving on lighting stations (dim light is the trademark of many provincial subway stations), many follow the path of increasing the interval of train movements - primarily in hours between morning and evening peaks intervals, weekends, in the evening. As a result, the townspeople has another additional argument in favor of land transport. In the same Nizhny Novgorod, before the opening of Strelka and before the full functioning of the two lines, the intervals on Gorkovskaya over the weekend reached 20 minutes. As a result, the most important metro section from Moskovskaya (the railway station is located there) to Gorkovskaya (the historical and business center of the city) was forced to encounter fantastically high intervals. Now, after the restoration of adequate intervals on the most popular stage, it will be extremely interesting to observe the Nizhny Novgorod metro - it will be possible to check in practice whether adequate intervals in the short term really affect the metro economy even better than opening new stations.

Practice shows that people usually use metro only in case of traffic jams. How metro-engineering fans jokes sadly on the forums, in order to achieve the normal functioning of the metro in millionaires - you need to kill the rest of the ground transport, not to clean the streets in winter and make the city stand in traffic jams. And you also need a cold winter - because in the warm vestibules waiting for a train for 20 minutes is clearly more comfortable than freezing at the same time at purged bus stops.

Metro is an extra expense

Metro, in contrast to land transport, is faced with a number of specific costs. And this is not only the cost of maintaining the entire infrastructure, which are rather big in themselves.

The federal center, which, as mentioned above, refused in 2010 any co-financing for the construction of regional subways, does not forget to take care of the convenience of passengers of already operating lines. On December 29, 2017, Federal Law No. 442-ФЗ On Off-Street Transport was adopted (related primarily the metro). The law establishes additional obligations on municipalities regarding transport safety and accessibility for disabled people. The director of the Nizhny Novgorod Metro in 2018 said that his company would be forced to hire more than 460 employees to ensure anti-terrorism security. The number of guards will be about 25% of the total number of subway personnel. Of course, their salary is not so high, but even in this case for regional subways this means more than a 10 percent increase in expenses and zero effect on income.

Typical descent for people with limited mobility

Typical descent for people with limited mobility

Metro enterprises are also required to ensure the availability of stations for people with disabilities. This can be done either through the installation of special elevators and ramps, or through the organization of special mobility groups at the station. And if in the Moscow metro this unconditionally good idea leads to something and people with disabilities begin to use it slowly, then the regional metro is infinitely far from this. Even if the infrastructure is in the subway, it may well be absent on the way to the station. And the law to a greater extent only leads to increased costs of the already poor provincial subways - leaving them still inaccessible to people with disabilities.

Additional costs for anti-terrorism security and an accessible environment for people with limited mobility lead to the fact that the subways begin to financially lose even more to ground transport.

Another sore point for regional subways is property taxes. Such a tax is paid on the basis of the amount of property on the balance sheet - and for subways due to the large number of infrastructure (tunnels, ventilation shafts, stations, etc.), its value is much higher than for land transport, where only machines is listed on the balance sheet. The exemption for this tax is established by regional governments (subways are on the balance sheets of municipalities) - which means that we are talking about transferring money from one budget to another. Depending on the relationship and mutual love of the city and regional authorities in some regions, this benefit is sometimes canceled and sometimes returned. In principle, now the majority of subways use the privilege, but Samara achieved it only in 2016, and could pay up to 150 million a year (about 25% of all metro expenses) after putting the new Alabinskaya station on the balance sheet.

Metro is really need for provincial millionaries?

From all the above, we can conclude that building a metro in cities with a population of just over a million does not make much sense - there are no such passenger flows to make it economically successful. But let's take a look at the following table - it presents the financial results of the regional subways for 2017:

Revenues, RUB million Costs, RUB mln Price of the trip, rub. Cost of travel, rubles
Nizhny Novgorod 604 million rubles 1336 million rubles 22 rub. 48 rubles
Novosibirsk 1606 million rubles 1,647 million rubles $ 20 21 rubles
Kazan N / A N / A N / A N / A
Samara 573 million rubles 664 million rubles 41 rubles 47 rubles
Yekaterinburg 1304 million rubles 1382 million rubles $ 27 28 rubles

All data is calculated based on the accounting reports of the subways for 2017. There is no data in Kazan - the metro has not established as a separate municipal enterprise, but it also combines trolleybuses and trams - therefore, the data of its financial statements are not applicable for analysis. The data on the incomes of the Samara metro look extremely unrealistic - with a fare of 28 rubles, passenger income is 41 rubles. It should be noted that income from a passenger should not be equal to the price of a ticket — there are retiree, owners of travel cards, income from advertising and other related activities — but Samara data, even adjusted for this, look like unrealistic. Municipal enterprises do not disclose accounting policies, so we can only assume that subsidies of one level or another were recorded in revenues. Data on the costs of the Samara metro look more or less logical.

But even when adjusted for the non-representativeness of the data for Kazan and Samara, an important fact attracts attention:

There are two extremely successful small metro systems in Russia - Yekaterinburg and in particular Novosibirsk

To explain the secrets of their success, you need to learn two more tables:

Passenger flow to track length (million passage per year / km) Average haul length (km)
Nizhny Novgorod 1.28 million pass / km 1.44 km
Novosibirsk 5 million pass / km 1.44 km
Kazan 1.56 million pass / km 1.54 km
Samara 1.21 million pass / km 1.16 km
Yekaterinburg 3.85 million pass / km 1.41 km
Novosibirsk metro map

Novosibirsk metro map

There are several success secrets for the Novosibirsk metro - and they are quite simple. Firstly, the metro is built where the main passenger flows are concentrated. The busiest station - Marx Square - is the center of the densely populated area on left blank of Ob. Residents of the Left Bank are forced to get to the right bank of the Ob - there is a officies center there - through 2 main bridges (the Bugrinsky bridge essentially performs an auxiliary function). Bridges are bottlenecks and there are traffic jams. Metro via the Ob in this situation is very important, and many Novosibirsk people choose this option of transportation. It is also worth saying that the metro in Novosibirsk covers the most passenger-intensive points - this is the entire city center, the main railway station, and the largest living areas. In the Samara, the railway station and the city center are not covered, in Nizhny Novgorod - the city center, in Kazan - one of the city stations (Central, where Moscow branded trains arrive).

It is definitely worth paying tribute to Novosibirsk designers - many stations are located at the intersection of large avenues, which automatically allows to make transportation hubs and connect other ground transport with the metro. This is infinitely far from Samara history, when some stations are hidden somewhere in the silence of the streets and you can easily not notice them. In general, Novosibirsk, being a very young megapolis (received the status of a city only in 1903), has mainly Soviet buildings. The densely built-up quarters of typical high-rise buildings, large avenues, the almost complete absence of the private sector, narrow streets in the city center are the ideal environment for the design of the metro.

Another of the factors that cannot be ignored is that Novosibirsk has a fairly low haul between stations. In general, the length of the line (not even the number of stations) is the main driver of costs, since the cost of electricity, personnel costs (track detectors, etc.) and the cost of maintaining the infrastructure depend on this. In Novosibirsk, the average path length per station is one of the lowest among regional subways, and if we exclude from the calculation the Novosibirsk metro bridge across the Ob (the longest metro bridge in the world), it will be even lower than in Samara. Stations in the Novosibirsk metro are located really close to each other. This saves on operating costs for the subway. It is important to note, of course, that it is not the small step between the stations that is important, but the small step that allows to capture a large passenger flow (as we said, it is due to high floor soviet buldings). In the same Samara, stations are also located close to each other and operating costs are relatively small - but passing stations through uninhabited places completely destroys all the advantages.

Do not discard a purely quantitative factor - Novosibirsk is the third most populated city in Russia, this number does not decrease (city is the center of the whole Siberia and the northern regions of Kazakhstan), which means that it wins other millionaires purely due to the quantitative factor. Yes, the agglomeration of Novosibirsk is much weaker than the Nizhny Novgorod metro, however, the Nizhny Novgorod metro practically does not receive the flow of people from its largest satellites.

It is important to say about the intervals in the Novosibirsk metro - they vary from 3 to 5 minutes. We already wrote above about the Nizhniy Novgorod, where the interval at the station in the city center reached 20 minutes - feel the difference. A small interval attracts people in the metro - this is a very important factor for millionaires, since people travel on average shorter distances than in Moscow, and long waiting times have a stronger effect on the total trip time.

Metro of Kharkov

Scheme of the Kharkov metro

Kharkov metro map

And although we are talking about Russian provincial subways in this topic, Kharkov metro deserves special attention. The former capital of the Ukrainian soviet republis is comparable to Novosibirsk in terms of population, but it has almost 3 times more passenger traffic in the metro (213 million passengers a year compared to 80 million in the Siberian capital). Kharkov was very lucky - the subway was opened in 1975 in it, which made it possible to build 21 stations before the collapse of the USSR and another 5 in the early Ukrainian period. All other provincial subways of the USSR, built outside the capitals of national republics (all described above) - were launched in the late 1980s and simply did not have time and money to gain a critical mass of stations. Currently, there are 30 stations in the Kharkov metro (14 stations in Novosibirsk) - in essence, this is the only city in the territory of the former USSR where the metro system basically acquired a finished look - the stations were built exactly where they are needed and not built where there aren’t sufficient flows.

Often, it is Kharkov that is cited as evidence that it makes sense to build a metro in millionaires. But such a view will greatly simplify the situation.

It must be understood that Kharkov as a city is very suitable for the construction of a metro. In the east of the city there is Saltovka - a huge continuous residential area in the east of the city, built according to standard Soviet projects in the 70s. Imagine - in a limited territory there are multi-storey buildings, houses, houses, without any breaks in industrial zones, parks, vacant lots, without low-rise and mid-rise construction left over from past eras. A peculiar area of ​​victorious anthills. Approximately half a million people live in the district (a third of the population of Kharkov). Something similar can only be seen in Moscow - some housing estates in the south of Moscow like Chertanovo and the surrounding areas would be quite competitive. And this whole mass of people can be taken out only by metro - stations of the blue Saltovskaya line are usually the busiest.

Barabashov’s market (Kharkov “Drum”) is also located there - after the liquidation of Moscow Cherkizon, it received the unofficial status of the largest market in Europe. Cheap goods sold by merchants of different nationalities attract impressive traffic to the nearby station of the same name. They even go to the “Drum” from neighboring russian Belgorod before 2014.

The tracing of the lines of the Kharkov metro was done very competently - the stations covered all 3 railway stations of the city, the bus station, and the largest residential areas. The metro completely covers the city center (the Historical Museum station and the neighboring ones) with its narrow streets. At the same time, in the western part of the city with large private sector arrays and green areas, the only Cold Mountain station was built. It serves as a connecting hub for Kharkiv citizens traveling to this part of the city (and is the largest in terms of passenger flow in the Kharkov metro). Yes, the red branch, going southeast to the industrial cluster, could not fail to suffer from the troubles that happened with the Kharkov industry after the collapse of the USSR. But even this did not cause a catastrophic blow to passenger flows - unlike Nizhny Novgorod and Samara.

What's next?

None of the non-capital Russian subways today has reached the required scale. In the absence of federal funding, most likely, it will not. The cost of building one station is usually about one third of the size of the city budget, so there is no reason to hope that the regions will be able to master such projects on their own. Novosibirsk has the most real chances to increase the new network - for the upcoming youth world hockey championship in the city, they can build Sportivnaya next to the ice palace. But this will give a purely local effect - the station is being built between two existing ones. Samara continues to design Samarskaya - the first station in the city center - allocating crumbs from its budget per year. In Nizhny Novgorod, too, there is room to move - most of the existing lines operate in the stub mode and do not reach a number of passenger-intensive points. But Kazan and Yekaterinburg should not be expected to build new stations - the construction projects of the first lines are completed, and in order to start building a new line (and not just a new station), it requires not a lot, but a very lot of money. Therefore, it is worth waiting that Russian millionaires, having completed unfinished lines, will be forced to agree to the construction of cheaper light rail lines. The metro, in spite of all its prestige, will remain a loss-making object on the balance of taxpayers.

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