The first section of the third Minsk metro line will open in 2019. Initially four stations of the new line – Kavaĺskaja Slabada, Vakzaĺnaja, Plošča Franciška Bahuševiča and Jubiliejnaja plošča – were supposed to be commissioned in 2017.
Plans shifted, and now huge construction is going on is several parts of the Belarusian capital.
The third line will run from the residential area of Zeleny Lug in the north to Kurassovshina in the south, crossing the existing lines at Pl. Lenina and Frunzenskaya. The first section will run from Jubiliejnaja plošča to Kavaĺskaja Slabada with two intermediate stations. In a second stage, the line will be extended to Niemaršanski Sad with an intermediate station at Aerodromnaya. Preparation for it have already started.
Construction of Vakzaĺnaja station is going on behind the Central railway station, on the side of Druzhnaya street. The entrance to the station will be located above the ground, through the railway station building. One of the floors (there will be two) has already been built. The platform of the station will traditionally be located underground.
Last year, 1 trillion 480 billion non-denominated Belarusian rubles (~$74 mln) was spent on metro construction. The budget allocated for 2017 is 1 trillion 760 billion non-denominated rubles, or about $88 mln.
Builders call the future Kavaĺskaja Slabada “Zhukovskaya” – that’s the project name of the station. They say construction goes quickly and smoothly here, and even ahead of plan. “It will be completed by spring. We are assembling the gauge grid, the station is ready by 95%”, CEO of Minskmetrostroy, a company responsible for metro construction, said.
In February last year an automatic tunneling boring machine for metro construction was launched in Minsk. The Earth Pressure Balance Tunneling Boring Machine (EPB TBM) was manufactured by the French company BESSAC.
Similar machines were used to dig the Eurotunnel between France and Great Britain.
The TBM was given a Belarusian name Alesya – there’s a a tradition in the world to give female names to such machines.
While a non-mechanized boring complex can dig a maximum of two to three meters of tunnel per day, Alesya is supposed to do ten, even eleven meters. During the launch of the TBM the expected speed was announced at 250-300 meters a month, an unprecedented figure for Belarus. However, after almost a year of operation, Alesya made mere 1250 meters. Numerous stops and troubles with the machine are widely discussed on specialized forums.
Plošča Franciška Bahuševiča is be the most difficult station in terms of construction. Yet, there’s no sign of the future station in the tunnel running under the Musical Comedy Theatre because Plošča Franciška Bahuševiča is the last station in the line. The rings of the tunnel are held by studs – part of them will disassembled when they start to build the station.
The operator of the TBM Alesya is controlling the digging process.
Jubiliejnaja plošča will be the deepest station of Minsk metro. The depth of its pit is equal to a ten-storey building.
Minskmetrostroy is dreaming of a second TBM to accelerate the pace of metro consrtuction.
Two of the four non-mechanized boring machines are now digging turnaround tunnels not far from the future Jubiliejnaja plošča. One of the tunnels is 238 meters long, the second twice shorter. The work is going on in three 8-hour shifts.
One of the workers, a former miner, has worked in the construction of Minsk metro for 30 years. “It’s much easier now”, the man says. “For example, now we have light jack-hammers from France. Very good ones. Soviet hammer were so heavy one could hardly pick them up! Now you just press one button – and it works! When did the French hammers appear? Well, we used them when we were building Malinauka station.”