Butovskaya Line

Butovskaya Light Metro Line

Butovskaya Light Metro Line (Бутовская линия Лёгкого Метро) or BLLM (БЛЛМ) is a Light Metro line of the Moscow Metro. The line symbolises an experiment of building rapid-transit in areas where tunnel boring is thought to be expensive and impractical. In the past, attempts were made to build lines on ground level, however as the Filyovskaya Line showed, the hard Russian climate, particularly in the winter and the large amount of space wasted proved the design unsuccessful. However, new districts on the very edge of the city, particularly those outside Moscow's outer ring road (MKAD) required a rapid-transit connection. But a question of whether it was practical to bore tunnels that far was raised. In the late 1980s, Moscow's urban design bureau, Metrogiprotrans, developed a series of projects that would bring rapid-transit beyond MKAD, with the southern district of Butovo being the first one. The term Light Metro was applied to these new projects, as it would feature an elevated track on a continuous flyover. Specific rolling stock had to be developed to serve the track, as it would have to be resistant to the open climate elements and sharper bends. For ease of operation, the Light Metro was integrated into the classical Metro service.

The Butovskaya Line essentially continues the Serpukhovsky radius of the Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line. For convenience, the first 1.8 kilometres were bored in a tunnel allowing for a convenient transfer with the terminus of the main line, Bulvar Dmitriya Donskogo. For the rest of its length it follows a flyover, guarded by a sound barrier, with both single and dual tracks. Currently, four Light Metro stations, each of identical design, are in operation. The system was opened in December 2003.


Segment Date opened Length
Ulitsa Strarokachalovskaya-Buninskaya Alleya December 27 2003 5.5 km
Total: 5 Stations 5.5 km


# Transfer to At
9 Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line Ulitsa Starokachalovskaya

Rolling stock

The line shares the Varshavskoe depot (№ 8) with the Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line. Specially built 81-740/741 Rusich trains serve this line. These are adapted to surface climate and to more rigorous bends and folds in the track. A total of 12 three-carriage trains are currently assigned.

Recent developments and future plans

Although the Light Metro was indeed innovative, it also received its share of criticism from different social groups and the media, which could well affect its future.

The main problems arose from finances, as the design was originally planned to be cost-saving; however, the BLLM turned out to be more expensive than conventional Metro lines. Passenger discomfort arose from shorter trains and larger intervals, but in particular from the transfer at Ulitsa Starokachalovskaya/Bulvar Dmitriya Donskogo, where the Light Metro station consists of two separated platforms on either side of the main line with no reversal sidings behind it. As a result passengers must queue for lengthier times at a platform and also deal with exiting traffic before boarding their train. Additional problems arose from the landscape damage done by the flyover.

Furthermore, costly and embarrassing improvements had to be made just a few months after opening. First, improvements had to be made to the faulty new trains, as they required immediate and unforeseen refits; in addition, despite the sound barriers, further noise reduction works had to be carried out on the tracks themselves by repairing their joints.

Despite the criticism, the Moscow Metro continues to put forward several expansion programmes for the BLLM, the first one of which is to place proper reversal sidings north of the station thus separating the terminus platforms into northbound and southbound roles; at present this is announced for 2009. After the completion of that there was initially a planned northwestwards underground extension towards the terminus of the Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya Line, Bittsevsky Park scheduled for 2007. Since then Moscow Metro has postponed the project and even taken it off its list of primarily projects to be completed by 2015.

A further three-station expansion to the southeast, as Butovo continues to grow, is proposed: Ulitsa Staropotapovskaya, Ulitsa Ostafyevskaya and Novokuryanovo, along with a new depot. The latter's construction might prove pivotal as it would allow for the line to become more independent in operation.

The problems with the BLLM have also affected the prospect of other Light Metro lines in general as the second planned line, the Solntsevskaya Light Metro Line, has now been cancelled. Its construction was planned to begin in 2004, with the line expected to open in 2006, but after repeated postponements, Moscow Metro decided that it would be more practical to revert to an older project—a conventional, Solntsevskaya Line. After the SLLM's cancellation, there have been concerns that BLLM's fate could be much worse, as there are arguments that it would be more practical to disassemble the line and replace it with two-three station extension of the STL.

Despite the shortcomings, one postive aspect of the BLLM was the Rusich trains, serial production of the rolling stock, have gained wider usage and are now dominant on the Filyovskaya Line, having replaced all of the older trains and is now growing its share of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line.

See also


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