Friday, 27 January 2012

The Metro 3: Escalators and Komsomolskaya (brown line)

I have noticed that if I place my hand on the moving handrail of an escalator in Australia, it gradually creeps ahead of me. The handrail, it seems, moves slightly faster than the steps. The same thing happens on the long Metro escalators in Moscow. It must be a universal escalator phenomenon. 

To their credit, Muscovites are very diligent about standing to the right on escalators, allowing people in a hurry to pass. Not that many people actually walk up (or down) the steps. Most people just stand there. I have seen people scurrying along the perehods (passageways) to the escalators as if they were late for an urgent meeting, only to become statues on the ascent. People have even, quite rudely, pushed in front of me in their urgent haste to get on these magic moving steps. Then they freeze and I pass them again (I usually walk up the escalators – I try to think of them as free exercise machines).

Wendy has suggested that riding the long escalators, which can take up to a minute, is sort of time out for busy Muscovites. I am less charitable – I think they are just being lazy.

Another interesting feature of the Metro is what I call the escalator police. At the bottom of long escalators is a little glass booth in which sits a grey-uniformed, often somewhat elderly, official watching both the escalator in front of them and a group of escalator images on closed-circuit television. I guess it stops people from getting up to whatever mischief people get up to on escalators. But it has to be one of the world’s most utterly, totally, completely boring jobs. Especially as Muscovites don’t seem to get up to any interesting mischief on escalators – they just stand there.

Riding the Komsomolskaya escalator. Unusually quiet as this was New Years Day. The metal and glass booth on the left is home to the diligent 'escalator police' - so behave yourself!
 Today’s station is Komsomolskaya on the brown line (there is a nearby, older station on the red line which is also called Komsomolskaya). This station was opened in 1952 and is perhaps the most ornate and lavish in the Metro. If I only had time to visit one Metro station on a short trip to Moscow, it would probably be this. 

A second, short escalator ascends..... an art gallery (sorry, I mean train station)

 The central hall contains 8 mosaic panels. Six of them show Russian military leaders and folk heroes. The other two were added in 1963 (one of which depicts Lenin speaking) to replace a couple of Stalinist mosaics deemed inappropriate at the time. 

Komsomolskaya mosaic
The station design won a Grand Prix at the 1958 International Exhibition in Brussels.

This really is just an underground railway station
See, there's a train!

Even Lenin approves.


  1. Hi Colin,

    You seem to be interested in Moscow metro. There are many facts and tricks in there. Just to name a few. For example, there is a secret that helps you to detect where exactly to stand on the platform waiting for a train. If you look carefully at the edge of a platform, you’ll see places that are worn out more than others. That’s where train’s doors are located when a train stops. Wait there and you’ll be the winner at rush hours. Although, I am not sure if it will work with the new type of trains shown on your photo.

    Also, there are male and female voices announcing stops. Perhaps you can investigate why yourself.

    Keep posting please! It is interesting to read.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I am usually able to avoid the Metro at peak hour, though Wendy is less fortunate. I'll pass on the advice to her. I have noticed that the first and last carriages are often less full.
    The female voice is heard on trains going away from the city centre and the male voice on trains going in to the city (I think I've got it the right way round). I also believe a different gender voice is heard in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions on the circular (brown) line. I don't know why - it seems to me that if you can't work out whether you are going in or out of the city, the gender of the recorded station caller is going to help much.