President Navalny Announces Metro Expansion to Accommodate Migrants From Viipuri and Královec

President Alexei Navalny (RB) has been beset by political instability since taking office three months ago, in the wake of the collapse of the Russian Armed Forces in face of a Ukrainian offensive with two divisions’ worth of Leopard 2s and 10 squadrons’ worth of F-16s. The loss of Královec in particular has generated a movement of nearly a million refugees, most of them headed to Moscow. Simultaneously, an estimated 400,000 Russians who left last year are returning, most of them, too, headed to Moscow or Saint Petersburg.

Navalny promises to react to this crisis through construction of housing and infrastructure, in the capital as well as in secondary cities. He says that the reduction in military spending and removal of sources of corruption will be enough to pay for this program, and says that while the loss of what he calls Vyborg and Kaliningrad is regrettable, at least no reparation payments were imposed. Analysts from the United States suggest that this early focus on material goods and growth is intended to increase popular support for the new regime and suggest continuity with the apolitical aspects of the prewar Russian state.

The focus on migrants from Viipuri and the larger Královec comes as interest groups speaking for those migrants are the most strident revanchists, calling for rearmament and saying that protesters and urban interests stabbed the Russian Armed Forces in the back. Russia Budushchego is rooted in Moscow and Saint Petersburg more than in the provinces, and Navalny is, according to analysts from Kazan and Chelyabinsk, trying to fold such migrants into big city society, hoping that they would integrate into what he views as the new Russia.

The proposed spending levels for the rail construction program bear out those analysts. The program includes 200 km of new rail in and around Moscow and another 90 in Saint Petersburg. All other cities combined are to get about 250 km, including restarting metro construction in Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Chelyabinsk; expanding the existing systems of Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara, and Yekaterinburg; and building new systems in Volgograd, Krasnodar, Ufa, Perm, Voronezh, and Rostov-on-Don.

Nonetheless, this program represents a quadrupling of the length of metro in Russia outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg; Navalny himself has personally visited Rostov-on-Don, the third largest destination for Russian refugees, mostly people expelled from Crimea and the Donbas for collaboration, and promised that democratic Russia would take care of all Russians, and repeated the line about quadrupling metro length outside the two main cities.

Navalny also pledged that housing construction would accelerate from a prewar average of 80 million square meters a year to 150 million. Here the new administration is open about focusing construction in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where demand is the strongest and rents are the highest; in Moscow, the government promises that incentives to private builders would create high-quality, high-density housing on top of existing and planned metro stations.


  1. Benjamin Turon

    That is a lot of Leo2s and F-16s — would make Ukraine just about the most potent military force in Europe, perhaps along with Poland.

    • Alon Levy

      Germany, Poland, Finland, Greece, and Spain have about a division’s worth of Leopard 2s each, though around half are older 2A4s and not newer 2A6s or 2A7s.

      • Benjamin Turon

        It was actually the “10 squadrons’ worth of F-16s” is what struck me the most when I read this — that’s about 20% of the USAF’s current inventory of the F-16, based on squadrons being 15-to-24 aircraft and the USAF having over a 1000 of the fighter jets, according to Only after a mouth dropped at the F-16s did I then also notice the two divisions of Leo2s.

        • Alon Levy

          Oh, I was assuming notional squadrons of 12 aircraft, based on the standardization here; the point is to give Ukraine around twice what it’s asked for (it asked for a division’s worth of Leopard 2s and is instead getting two battalions, plus four battalions of Leopard 1s straight from the museum).

          • Benjamin Turon

            I see, a very logical way to do it with the divisions and squadrons — like what Winston Churchill quipped about the political battle over dreadnought battleship funding in the 1909 budget during the height of the Anglo-German Naval Race:

            “The Admiralty had demanded six ships; the economists offered four; and we finally compromised on eight.”

        • Benjamin Turon

          How Ukraine invades Kaliningrad and takes Vyborg also escapes me — orbital drop by Space Marines? Mandalorians? Tunnel Boring Machines?

          • michaelj

            The same submarines and surface vessels the Ukrainians used to blow up those Nordstream pipelines.

            Though I admit the use of militarised TBMs is compelling.

          • Basil Marte

            – No need to. “Penultimate man standing, of two” is not exactly a good negotiating position. Compare the Brest-Litovsk peace when Russia collapsed out of WW1. (The same warscore could be used to release stuff in Asia, though I guess the Western sponsors don’t want that because it would only create a massive sphere of influence for China; compare Austria-Hungary getting cut up, only to be dominated first by Germany and later by Russia.)
            – Not Ukraine but the relevant countries (albeit from the spelling I’d have guessed Czechia, not Poland). How this doesn’t turn nuclear / into WW3 is an excellent question. “Don’t mind us, this is just a special military operation” is, ahem, unlikely to work.

            Incidentally, what happens to Belarus? Given the rest of the premise, I wouldn’t expect Lukashenko’s reign to continue. (Do they pull an Andorra and say that their head of state is the President of Poland?)

          • Sascha Claus

            Maybe climate change invaded these cities with the Baltic Sea forces?

          • Borners

            The most likely Kaliningrad option would be Ukrainian success leading to Putin launching tactical nukes in turn forcing NATO to intervene to squash the Nuclear bite-and-hold precedent, with Kaliningrad occupied as a bargaining chip.
            Full dispossession though is too much though. If the West wants to make a point of self-determination being the criterion for territorial control then it should implement it when it has the power to. In fact if you nabbed Kaliningrad the better alternative would be to set it up as a alternative Russian administration, since the biggest threat to Putin is the creation of alternative power structures with legitimacy. He’d squeal.

    • Carl

      Presumably Ukraine should be rebuilt on Western European gauge. That does lead to an interesting discussion of if that’s possible and what it would look like.

      • Sascha Claus

        It would look like Netscape, which went into a hiatus in the late nineties to completely rewrite their browser. In the meanwhile, Internet Explorer ate their lunch and when they (their sales guys) decided to release the new browser (a rather half-finished one), nobody remembered them.

        If the Ukrainian Railways go into such a hiatus to completely rebuild their network for multipile decades (and for what gain?), maybe they finish the first regauged line in time for the 20th annual memorial procession that celebrates the final day and closure of the railway?

        Without doubt, there will be plenty of reconstruction money available to for “investment” into motorways and other roads, be it from a Luxembourg-based bankor a Beijing-based one.

        • michaelj

          In my naivety I assume it is relatively straightforward when downsizing from a larger to smaller gauge? In fact can’t both be used simultaneously on the one track?

          I read somewhere that a HSR (or higher speed) link between Warsaw and Kyiv was being contemplated pre-war? Presumably when this thing is over the EU will support such a link; put another thru Romania-Bucharest to Odessa-Kherson (and another 500km or whatever thru Romania, Bulgaria to Austria or Italy etc). Then just need north-south Kyiv-Odessa and the country is pretty well covered plus linked to the EU. I think Vlad has inadvertently given a boost to the Trans-European Transport programs.
          Building completely new lines for pax HSR but leaving freight as is, doesn’t really work as one really wants good freight links with the EU. As we saw with wheat transport, it is slow and painful using the existing system.

          Part of the war coverage I saw last week showed how efficiently and quickly the Ukrainians are repairing their rail network minimising the impact from Russian bombing. Any ambitious plans to overhaul Ukraine’s rail network should be done quickly in the post-war period to exploit this energetic enthusiasm to rebuild. In fact Ukraine has stated that they intend to begin the infrastructure rebuilding before the war is over, so maybe this could apply to the rail upgrade. Remember it should be Vlad’s money funding it, which comes with the added bonus of driving him nuts. (However some bankers/lawyers are still nitpicking over the legality of seizing Russian funds sitting in various international banks, fulfilling Putin’s characterisation of western weakness. Just.Do.It.)

          • Basil Marte

            If the new structure gauge strictly fits inside the old, then you can indeed do the same kind of operation as a gauge-preserving track replacement would. Which is only supposed to be done every several decades, but OK.

            The Odessa-Bucharest-?? HSR is, on the other hand, a pipe dream, sorry. Reasons:
            – CFR (Romanian Railways) has trouble with consistently maintaining its legacy track in a condition where they can be used at sensible speeds. Far from the only culprit in the broader region.
            – What’s the onward route? Bulgaria-Greece is …an idea, just far, far down the list. -Serbia-… is mostly out, as Serbia isn’t an EU member. Bucharest(R)-Timisoara(R)-Szeged(H)-Budapest(H)-Vienna(A)-… is a perfectly sensible high-ish-traffic corridor in its own right (mostly on roads, currently), but is a huge detour.
            Why not go through the Ukraine-Hungary border instead?
            – Integration with legacy rail is a bust, because in many parts of the broader region, legacy rail is a joke (of the gallows humor type). See track maintenance.
            – Overall, the distances are long a.k.a. population density is low. The Carpathians (and depending on route choice, plenty of other ranges) are also in the way.

          • michaelj

            @Basil Marte

            Of course every bit of crayon is part fantasy. However you are being too econocratic. Anything the EU will support has much broader goals and your reasons why Romania + Bulgaria cannot be done, is exactly why it should be done. These two countries are the current far-eastern edge of the EU. Remember when the EU was criticised for expanding “too fast, too soon” to include these countries? It is obvious why it was done that way, for some perhaps only in retrospect, and the nervous nellies were wrong. Despite the problems, or because of the problems (if not part of the EU where would Hungary-Romania-Bulgaria be today? With their own budding Transnistria’s?) If Trans-Europe Transport plans don’t include these countries then WTF? When the US built the IHS, did it omit the poorest and poorest-run states?
            The very act of doing it would pull their rail management up by the bootstraps. Not to mention that it would be imperative to connect up the south of Ukraine and its Black Sea coast, which is where all the industry and large-scale agriculture is (and of course why Ukraine must retain this and why Putin wants it). When Putin blockaded their ports they didn’t run the wheat trains and trucks to the north but went to Romania (where they had to be transferred to new trains).

            [Doesn’t the existing lowland coastal strip/Danubian plain connecting Romania-Ukraine, with its existing railways, avoid the Carpathians? In fact isn’t it a good reason to choose this route, rather than directly to Hungary etc?]

          • Alon Levy

            The EU is currently busy not letting Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen because the Austrian minister of the interior is so racist he hates Eastern Europeans and not just the groups the average Austrian is racist against (Jews, Muslims, etc.).

          • michaelj


            But you think that that is likely to improve with deeper EU engagement or lesser engagement including as far as being outside the EU? I thought the EU should have withheld funds from Orbán, but they took the softly-softly approach hoping it would influence Hungary’s voters in that last election. However that didn’t work. Infrastructure funds is one substantial carrot the EU can wield for these marginal countries. Like I said, it is clear that Putin has aided the EU integration project. Even Bulgaria has provided arms to Ukraine.

            Also, Schengen is really about confidence in border integrity & controls. Plus, passenger-HSR and freight trains go to non-Schengen countries, eg. UK (though pax numbers have dropped by a third since Brexit).

          • Matthew Hutton

            Britain wasn’t in Schengen pre-Brexit either to be fair.

            And yeah pre-Brexit the security at St Pancras delayed things by maybe 15 minutes but let’s not overstate things. Post-Brexit some of the problems are a lack of space for security at St Pancras and other stations, and the more onerous checks mean the delay over no checks is more like half an hour.

            But even in Schengen how does the train do at competing with flying/driving for people going from the Netherlands or Belgium to the French ski resorts?

          • michaelj

            I agree that the Customs & Immigration checks for Eurostar were never onerous in my day, which was when it terminated at Waterloo. A dream compared to Heathrow.

            Brexit has had an adverse effect thru two main things (I read): 1. previously EU citizens only needed an Identity Card to travel to the UK, now they need a full passport; 2. a big reduction in visiting school parties, again something to do with increased paperwork (which I read just last week there has been some kind of relaxation).

            does the train do at competing with flying/driving for people going from the Netherlands or Belgium to the French ski resorts?

            I don’t really know but apparently well enough that they put on special trains in the season.

          • Matthew Hutton

            Also if you did passport checks on the train between Ashford and Calais you’d cost the trains at least 8 minutes with the extra stops to do those customs checks, and most likely 10-12.

            That’s little improvement on the minimum time to do the checks at St Pancras.

          • Basil Marte


            Separating the topics:
            – The second use in a dual-use rail project is military freight. Assuming the regauging of Ukraine, the broader region has sufficient (legacy) network for this purpose. Perhaps more importantly, HSR built in a way to be not hilariously expensive is largely useless for this purpose — 3-4% grades and comparatively light-load bridges.
            – If not part of the EU, they would be poorer, but they wouldn’t be falling apart. They hate each other too much for that. E.g. in Hungary, the ruling moderate-right Fidesz (i.e. Orbán) government keeps putting the Hungarian diaspora living in Romania (and to a lesser extent, Ukraine and Slovakia) on a pedestal, while the far-right is actually territorially irredentist (to the pre-1920 borders). The respective far rights of these countries hate Hungary and the Hungarian diaspora back (and occasionally each other where they rub borders).
            – Yes, there is a coastal plain connecting Ukraine to Bucharest and to the northern half of Bulgaria. But for connecting the HSR to the rest of Europe (almost certainly via Vienna), it has to cross the Southern Carpathians between Bucharest and either Timisoara or Belgrade (the probable route options).
            – I simply disagree with the claim that “the very act of doing it would pull their rail management up by the bootstraps” is how institutional capacity works. Just as Amtrak (or the commuter RRs) and their state (polity) governments have a problem with what is usually called corporate culture, where they largely don’t even seek out opportunities to improve the service they provide to customers, even opportunities that would cost little or actual nothing even in the short term, and then blame the poorness of service on “systematic underfunding”, is in some respects strikingly similar to what is going on with MÁV (Hungary), CFR (Romania), etc. Straightforward attempts to build HSR would simply fail, or cost unreasonably. Asking the question “assuming it gets built at reasonable cost, what must have happened upstream?” mostly produces “the project was driven by SNCF, for impossible reasons”. Yes, Romania has cultural cringe towards France (including their flag), but none of the other countries do (Serbia toward Russia, Hungary toward Austria), the host countries won’t compromise like that (what with hating each other — trans-border passenger rail is hilariously bad, outside flagship mainlines it largely doesn’t exist at all; many secondary lines that preexisted WW1 today see services up to the respective preexisting stations short of the border, on both sides, with zero service of any kind (not even a bus) that crosses the border to connect passengers between those stations; not that it would make sense in the absence of schedule coordination), and an EU-driven project couldn’t force SNCF leadership down their throats either.
            (How is cultural cringe compatible with not learning? Easily. “They are better funded” (yes, mostly because they spend it more productively), “their municipal governments are more cooperative” (yes, and their railway reciprocates the good attitude), “their passengers are better behaved” (yes, partly the ethnic stereotypes have a core of truth, partly the interregio rail service is appealing to those who could drive, partly you need a cleaning schedule that is sufficient).)
            – Given the low density, long-distance passenger travel is going to be mostly air travel (probably with a healthy niche for sleeper trains on legacy tracks — up to 1000 km or so, it’s overnight).
            – The EU should stuff the carrot up its arse. If it wants more influence over the internal governance of its members, it shouldn’t go “you-know-what-I-want, wink wink” like an anime girl, it should go and make decisions and implement them. The local government will always have more media influence over the vast majority of its population than the EU, thus it will always successfully spin things to its advantage. (It’s like the “local notable” problem, just worse.) Any funding given is a credit to the government for getting Other People’s Money; any funding withheld is a hostile attempt to screw the country out of money it deserves (particular facepalm at “deserves”) as well as to manipulate its Holy Democracy from the outside (which it is, according to the written rules — why are the rules written that way, again? Oh, so that we can pretend there is no power, that we just do the same thing independently out of our own free will, and occasionally go you-know-what-I-mean-wink-wink at each other. Well, I’ve got news: this is stupid).

          • michaelj

            @Matthew Hutton
            In today’s Guardian:

            Orient Express to axe UK section after 41 years due to Brexit
            Luxury train operator cuts service ahead of biometric passport checks so passengers will have to join train in Paris
            James Tapper, 15 Apr 2023

            I guess that might mean using Eurostar instead. But really, why bother when it starts in Paris … just live in Pari:-)

            @Basil Marte

            You seem excessively pessimistic. The EU was specifically created to reduce that kind of crazy, and in general it has been a wild success. When I first arrived in Europe just a few years after Ireland and Portugal had joined the EU, those two were the poorest and most backward countries in the EU. Now Ireland is one of the richest and Portugal is transformed.
            I think it mostly persists from the older generation who still run the politics. Next Gen will be very different, plus I really do believe that seeing Brexit nonsense and the Putin aggression on their tvs and smartphones every day is very positive from this point of view.

          • Matthew Hutton

            I haven’t had much experience with their rail network – but the Austrians have built some pretty impressive road tunnels in the Tirol linking some pretty small places. I can’t imagine they could have done that if they couldn’t build infrastructure cheaply. The roads in the Cumbia/Yorkshire/Wales or Devon/Cornwall certainly leave a lot more to be desired over much simpler terrain. Certainly also the ÖBB NightJet is the most innovative international train service in Europe.

            And the Russian rail network was really pretty strong too when I used it – it carries a lot of freight and was pretty reliable.

            So if Austria, Russia and France are the countries that they have cultural cringe towards I’m not sure that’s all bad.

          • Basil Marte

            Which kind of crazy, out of several? (1: Ethnic animosity, 2: rotten organizational culture in the civil service or state-owned companies, 3: deserving-based moralistic reasoning, 4: obscuring/informalizing power)

            Yes, the younger the cohort, the more cosmopolitan. The effect is somewhat attenuated by disproportionate brain-drainage of the more cosmopolitan young adults to Western Europe, removing them from the voter pool whereas those young adults who are more conservative/nationalist stay. I would also remark that in the news here, Brexit is almost a non-topic (we don’t have cringe toward the UK) and coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is terrible. As in, the debate centers around arguments like “people are dying and suffering, the most important thing is to end the war ASAP — the cost is such that there are no ‘winners’ [therefore ignore whom the settlement would relatively benefit]”, “it was in an attempt to increase its security that Russia invaded Ukraine, and all states want to improve their security, therefore we shouldn’t be mad at Russia, therefore we shouldn’t side with Ukraine [since the only reason to pick sides is moral outrage at a cheater, and because “the laws of physics” allow this move, we shouldn’t see it as cheating]”, and justifications for assuming the frame “well we have no idea how/why Putin decides things [so we have to take Russia’s actions as given (inevitable?), the only question is what Ukraine responds]”. All of these are stupid but this side bothers with the decency of putting forward arguments that a large part of the audience can eat up hook, line and sinker. Meanwhile, the other side largely doesn’t use logos (i.e. the appearance of logical arguments) and instead appeals to outrage at the invasion, or appeals to preexisting loyalty to “the West” and/or enmity to Russia (or Putin personally). I suppose it works, in the sense that a lot of people do endorse the conclusion, but the crucial point is that because these are not arguments as such, they cannot convince people who don’t already agree with the conclusion. The Whigs/liberals/neoliberals as well as the socialists are missing a huge opportunity here to do more than passively acculturating young people into cosmopolitanism.

            @Matthew Hutton

            I specifically mentioned some common excuses for why they refuse to learn despite salivating over the outcomes produced “over there”.

          • Sascha Claus

            Yes, there is a coastal plain connecting Ukraine to Bucharest and to the northern half of Bulgaria. But for connecting the HSR to the rest of Europe (almost certainly via Vienna), it has to cross the Southern Carpathians between Bucharest and either Timisoara or Belgrade (the probable route options).

            OK, so I’m firing up an online mapping and measuring the distance Odessa – Bucharest – Vienna, which is 1300 km as the crow flies and passes so close by Bratislava and Budapest that the 250 km marker lines would touch them.

            With 330 km/h all the way, Odessa – Vienna would be below the four-hour mark; with a realistic line and intermediate stops, it would be longer, but could fill trains with intermediate passengers.

            If I’m measuring from Bucharest westward and bend around slightly to serve the major cities, 1300 km gets me all the way to Munich. Doesn’t sound bad, so I’m going to stop here and not look at population and purchasing power east of Viennna.

      • A.G.

        Yeah, it would be interesting to see Alon’s take on what Ukraine’s rail network postwar could/should look like, including what a modern large-scale regauging project would look like, and how much regauging (if any) is needed.

        • Alon Levy

          At policy level, I’d start with the observation that UZ knows more about its rail needs than any EU consultant and therefore the EU and member states should be providing reconstruction money rather than master plans.

          The one thing I think would be useful to suggest at action level is that given a pot of money, Ukraine should be thinking of building a high-speed rail network designed for exclusive passenger use, giving away the old lines to freight, in the Chinese style. Ukraine has very high freight traffic (link) – by far the heaviest in democratic Europe – so any increase in passenger rail speed requires dedicated tracks. Ukraine isn’t really a country of big cities and this makes HSR a meh fit for it, but it’s also low-density and this makes German-style medium-speed rail a meh fit too, and I expect that postwar Ukraine would have a weak currency and a shortage of cash for imported goods and this makes cars harder to obtain, making rail stronger in general.

          • Henry Miller

            If you are building new track anyway, then in general you should build it for HSR. That is put a fence up in rural areas, and run at grade, and in towns run elevated. The difference in cost isn’t that much.

            It is when you have existing track build to low speed standards and don’t have the land to make the curves wider that the debate about if HSR is worth it.

            Ukraine is in the interesting position where they have a lot of destroyed land to start over on. If someone has to build a new house you have a lot more opportunity to tell them where they can put it so there is room for your line.

            Most of this land is in the east though, and thus not really useful for integration with any EU HSR. It is much harder to argue for making changes in the west when the line is still there (other than a few places that a bomb hit), and to change speeds means you need to take land from people who are not forced to change their way of life anyway. A HSR to Kyiv from the EU is the most obvious HSR if you are going to rebuild, but probably not worth it. While lines from less significant cities in the east probably should be built as HSR just because they are worth building for slower speeds.

          • Borners

            I do wonder if a Germany strategy with HSR sections in a few places (Kiev-Ternopil)might be actually cost effective in Ukraine? You’ve argued pretty decisively that Germany’s passenger base is so large that full dedicated HSR network is the best fit. I wonder if Ukraine (as with Russia) might be a better fit given it geography.

            I was also thinking about urban rail. Eyeballing it from Gmaps Kyiv could easily have a loop line with their legacy track, yet they want to build a whole subway extension to do it?

          • Alon Levy

            Russia specifically is good geography for Shinkansen- or TGV-style high-speed rail because of Moscow-Saint Petersburg. (Contra what Kamil Galeev and other democrats from the Russian periphery will tell you, Moscow isn’t too large but too small – it’s comparable in size to London or Paris in a country about as large as the UK and France combined.)

            Ukraine doesn’t have this, and also doesn’t have neat linear corridors; a lot of it boils down to how upgradable some legacy lines are, like Kharkiv-Dnipro.

          • Matthew Hutton

            Upgrading the Chiltern mainline in the UK was a big success and wasn’t too expensive. I wonder if that’s a model Ukraine could use – albeit without diesel trains.

          • Borners

            Moscow can be undersized, highly productive and also exploitative of its regions (London has some elements of this in how it gets an oversized share of the capital budget, but the windfalls the state feeds on are its agglomeration economies not provincial mineral deposits).

            So you don’t Lviv-Kyiv-Kharkiv is viable as HSR? Also what is your take on the Gauge issue?

            Also Ukraine has little to learn from the UK on rail, even before we get to UZ being orders of magnitude more competent than their UK equivalents. A densely populated island has nothing to tell a large sparsely populated continental country. UK’s geography alone makes it a terrible location for freight rail, and has reasonably linear urban corridors inherited from the Victorians. The UK could learn from Ukraine how to rebuild state institutions and that EU membership is worth shooting your way in.

            Oh for some of the casual can-do attitude of these guys.

            (n/b the first railway in Ukraine was built by the British army in the Crimean war to supply the siege of Sevastopol)

          • Alon Levy

            I don’t know how much the gauge issue matters to be honest – there are gauge change trains in Spain, no need for Russian-style bogie exchange.

            Lviv-Kyiv-Kharkiv by itself seems pretty weak. A line like that would have to live on intermediate connections as well, but Odesa, Dnipro, and Zaporizhzhia aren’t anywhere near it; the intermediate cities would instead be Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Vinnytsia, Bila Tserkva, and Poltava, with a branch to Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia, but those intermediate cities are around 300,000 people each.

          • Richard Mlynarik

            Gauge-changing trains are a niche novelty. Super cool, to be sure, but hardly something to structure any long-range national (Iberia aside) plans around.

            More to the point, they’re irrelevant to freight.

            Does future low-friction high-volume cross-border freight from Ukraine westwards to 1435mm-land merit extensive expensive and disruptive (gallows humour that last bit, right?) incremental gauge conversion of all or part of a vast country’s national rail network? I have zero idea! But that’s where the justification would lie, if any.

          • Sascha Claus

            Depends on whether there is any rail freight at all remaining when (of if?) they are finished …

            One could double-gauge a freight mainline from Ukraine through eastern Poland to the Baltic Sea so that Ukraine gets broad-gauge access to the ports of Gdańsk and Gdynia and to the three Baltic states, should the broad-gauge network there still exist by that time.

            Build a (container) transloading station at every crossing point with an east-west-mainline and you can connect every station in Broad-Gauge-Land with every station in Standard-Gauge-Land with one unloading and reloading. Won’t help with block trains (unless for the ports), but I assume they aren’t to frequent.

          • adirondacker12800

            I don’t know how much the gauge issue matters to be honest
            Worry about it in the 22nd Century when Europe finishes it’s conversion to automatic couplers?

  2. Eric2

    I am actually pretty impressed with how the Moscow Metro is growing in recent years. Two new ring lines, a lot of radial extensions, two RER-type lines with three more on the way, gradual improvement of metro-regional rail transfers, no real missed transfers that I can think of. The main issue I can think of is bad land use (despite relatively high overall density, the core is weak and the branches often house people far from the rail stations) which seems to be an artifact of Soviet planning and current corruption.

      • Eric2

        There does not seem to be a strong CBD where jobs are concentrated. (There’s MIBC, but that’s recently built and seems to not host that many jobs in regional terms.) I found a job map of Moscow, and the peak job density seems to be spread over a large swathe of eastern Moscow east of the traditional center, mostly industrial looking areas. Similarly, there is not a concentration of population or built density near the center – if anything, population density appears to be higher around the periphery. The dispersion of both jobs and residents creates the need for more and longer trips, and makes the private car more attractive as trips are more diffuse.

        I imagine the reason for all this is that the Soviet government decided where to put jobs and housing according to planning principles. Planners are pretty horrible at such things wherever they have been tried – it’s much better to let the market naturally put density in the best places for density (i.e. where land is most valuable).

          • Eric2

            I’m not sure exactly which map I had in mind, but it was likely this (found by Google image search plus specifically excluding “population density”). But now that I look more closely at the image and accompanying text, it appears that I misunderstood the image, and it seems the eastern industrial areas have a lot of “workplaces” (i.e. employers) who each employ few workers, for an overall low employment density.

        • onodera

          I have this map of job density for the whole region,, but it’s not very useful: everything inside MKAD is 1000+ workplaces/km2. Another source ( claims that 40% of Moscow residents work inside TTK, which makes it a solid core in my book.

          If anything, Moscow agglomeration lacks well-developed secondary cores, as this concentration of jobs in the central district causes severe pendulum mobility, pushing key metro stations to the limit of their capacity (

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