Round and Round: the New Moscow Central Circle

Round and Round: the New Moscow Central Circle
28 September 2016

On the 10th September a new line opened on the Moscow Metro circuit: the Moscow Central Circle, or MCC (Московское центральное кольцо, МЦК). The new route, drawn on my handy Yandex Metro app map in a dusty pink that Farrow and Ball would possibly care to call Nancy’s Blushes or, according to Dulux, is perhaps more of a Sweet Pink, encircles Moscow, kind of like a new big sister to the classic circle line we all know (which is closer to the colour of Ronseal). The local Moscow authorities hope it will help to reduce traffic as people can now reach stations connecting to the central Metro system without using the Marshrutki that are so characteristic of the kerbs of residential areas and station exits.


Ride the Line

An estimate of annual passengers currently measures at some 300 million people, but of course this is yet to be seen, as the service is only in its first weeks and the line is not entirely completed just yet. For the month of September, journeys on the MCC line are free and I made the most of this to go and have a gander myself.


The line runs above ground so the views are, at points, pretty spectacular. I rode for 30 minutes from the Northwest to the Southwest of the city and got to see the business district Moscow City from up close and also had a good view of the iconic building of Moscow State University a bit later (alas, I couldn’t get past my babushka neighbour to the other side of the train to take a photo). The most noticeable thing about this new line, however, is how wonderfully modern the trains are. They are Lastochka trains and I have travelled in them before in the South along the Black Sea. They are wide and air conditioned (heated I guess in Winter), the seats are comfortable, there are toilets aboard and, after the busy dinginess of the old Soviet metro trains, are a wonder to behold. As much as I love the Moscow Metro and journeys in Russia on trains in general, there is nothing quite like the feeling of delight (and relief in the case of my longer journeys from Sochi) that you get when such a cool, bright and clean train pulls up into the station.

Reconstructing the Rails

However, it is wrong of me to call this line and its route ‘new’. Of course there is much that is new about it, but really this is the reconstruction of a train line originally built in the first decade of the twentieth century. As long ago as 1897 Tsar Nicholas II commanded that a ring railroad be built, but it was in 1908 that it saw its completion. After its initial use as a passenger line, the railway quickly became a freight route due to a lack of passengers owing to rather pricey tickets. It is only now that the line is open once again, redeveloped and modernised, for passenger travel.


How the Moscow Central Circle is going to help ease the congestion on both roads and the so-called ‘normal’ Metro is yet to be seen. But if you fancy a good look at such icons as some of Stalin’s ‘Seven Sisters’ buildings or a nosey at some of the more residential and slightly further-flung regions from up on a high train track, then go get your free ride whilst it lasts. Alternatively, go whenever you fancy because after living in places like London and paying for an Oyster card, Moscow transport feels almost free anyway!

Ellie, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow

Posted by Ellie

Hi there! I am a Modern Languages graduate from the UK, spending some time in Moscow to get some work experience, practice my Russian and enjoy the city! I hope you enjoy the blog.

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