Work in the St. Petersburg metro. History of demand
In 2021, St. Petersburg Metro will increase fares above inflation (60 rubles) and will apply for an increase in the amount of subsidy from the budget. The company incurs losses due to the decline in passenger traffic caused by the effects of the pandemic coronavirus in 2020. In comparison with the last year, the subway occupancy decreased by 38%, resulting in a loss of 3.2 billion rubles only for the first 9 months.
For saving reasons, the SUE has increased the interval of trains, reduced the number of trains per line, and revised the fare. It may cause a flurry of discontent, because in the regions they struggle with similar problems by cutting costs on repairs and design work. However, the experience of the Leningrad metro showed that if it is necessary to adjust the financial schedule, the changes should be the last to be applied to the funds allocated for inspections, repairs, and maintenance of facilities.
In 1974-1975, during the construction of the line tunnels between Lesnaya and Ploshchad Muzhestva, a large-scale accident occurred as a result of the effects of quicksand (water-saturated soil - ed.). It resulted in flooded tunnels, a 400x200 meter trough on the surface due to subsidence, broken streetcar rails, and damaged and destroyed buildings.
To eliminate the washout, it was decided to use the most advanced at that time technology of freezing with liquid nitrogen, which made it possible to lower the temperature of the formation to -70 degrees. However, after 20 years of operation, the accident reminded about itself by increasing leakages in the tunnels and their subsidence, as a result of which the number and character of defects became critical. In 1995, passenger traffic in the section was discontinued. It was not until 2004 that trains began using the new tunnels that had been built to bypass the emergency route.
Based on the events, two films, namely, Breakthrough and Metro were produced, and many books were written. Not only subway construction workers, but also representatives of the subway memorized the lesson learned. The necessity of the qualitative assessment of the technical condition of buildings and constructions was the reason for the creation by the St. Petersburg Metro in 2003 of a special subdivision: the Tunnel Surveying Test Station of the Tunneling Structures Service (TSIS). Its managers and employees were mining engineers, graduates of St. Petersburg Mining University.
One of them is Artyom Artyomov, head of the station's survey section. He calls himself a hereditary miner; his grandmother and parents taught and conducted scientific research at the aforementioned university.
"My father was an associate professor at the Department of Explosives. Today a teaching and research laboratory of the Australian company ORICA (the world's largest manufacturer of explosives - ed.) operates here, but even 20 years ago the university could boast of a solid material base. One day my father took me to work and I attended a practical class of students who conducted research on the process of fracture and development of the explosion in rocks using blast chambers. It made such an impression on me that everything I wanted to be up to that point became irrelevant. I began to take an active interest in the blasting profession and decided to enroll in the mining department," says Artyomov.
Initially, the young man expected to build a career in mining. To this end, he repeatedly interned at the Kirov mine and at a company that was engaged in blasting operations in the Leningrad Region. However, after graduation, his plans changed: the young man was offered a job at Metrostroy.
“In the mines, mining engineers build mines, while in the city they build tunnels. In many respects the principles and approaches to the implementation of tasks are similar, although, of course, the subway has its own specifics. As a leading specialist of the design department, I participated in the construction of International, Volkovskaya, Admiralteyskaya, and Prospekt Slavy stations. I was involved in developing construction projects, which covered the whole construction process: passing of sections, waterproofing, concreting, construction of necessary structures. We have one of the deepest subways in the world, so it was a great experience, which now allows me to build a successful career in the underground railway systems", explains Artyom Artyomov.
When he moved from one organization to another, he immediately joined the Tunnel Surveying Test Station and in 5 years rose from first category engineer to the head of the surveying sector.
"Today I supervise 10 survey engineers. We assess the technical condition of underground and surface facilities of the subway. Our task is to determine the degree of external negative impact on them and give recommendations for further safe and accident-free operation. We are not doctors, but diagnosticians, who can tell from the external signs and the instrumentation base how much ‘ill the patient is and what is the cause of the ‘illness’ and whether repairs are needed, what kind of repairs, when they should be started, or how long they can be postponed," says Artyom Artyomov.
According to the specialist, from 10 to 40% of engineers in the Mining Department, depending on the department profile, are graduates of Mining University. Most of them come from the construction department - surveyors, geodesists, specialists in the construction of mining enterprises and underground structures. Among them, there often are those who have undergone industrial practice in the subway and imbibed the atmosphere. However, among the employees there are representatives of the mining and geological exploration departments. For example, Artyom Artyomov graduated from the Explosive Engineering Department, but the level of his education allows him to work freely in the subway maintenance service.
Nina Kononova, head of the Tunnel Surveying Test Station, is also a graduate of the university.
“On the basis of my own education in the speciality and postgraduate school, as well as my subsequent experience working with graduates, I can say that the university has a very powerful scientific and educational school and instrumentation base. I graduated from the Faculty of Underground Space Development. Mine engineering is the specialty, which during five years of training allows to study all the disciplines, which are taught at the university. That includes geology, economics and construction technologies. Besides, the quality of education is influenced by the fact that 5-20% of the total number of the departments' teachers are engaged in practical work at enterprises. The percentage is set for each individual field. When new specialities related to inspection, construction and operation of unique buildings and facilities appeared at the university and I reached a certain level in my career, I started to be invited as an expert to give lectures and conduct practice,” says Nina Kononova.
It is noteworthy that today she herself is taking advanced training courses at the university on the issue of construction supervision during the construction of linear and extended objects. It is a standard requirement for specialists: on average, every 5 years to deepen existing competencies. Science and technology do not stand still, they set requirements on field-specific operations, and the new legislative aspects require higher quality and responsibility for the construction result.
The underground railway system cooperates with the university not only in training. In 1995, a commission under the Government of St. Petersburg was set up to find technical solutions to eliminate the consequences of the second washout between Lesnaya and Ploshchad Muzhestva. At that time, the group included the best engineers of the city from Lenmetrogiprotrans, the Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, the Railway University and the Mining University.
“The university continues to be our partner. We are not a scientific organization, but we willingly listen to the scientific world. Therefore, when we cannot perform surveys on our own, and when we need a serious justification of some processes, risk analysis, additional expert evaluation and forecast, we hold tenders. And Mining University regularly participates in such tenders. For example, we constantly monitor the washout section and invite them as one of the contractors to do monitoring of the old flooded and new tunnels, the ground surface, the buildings. Today we are actively monitoring the sites that have been introduced quite recently. For example, we are fixing all the changes on the Frunzensky radius: from the Mezhdunarodnaya station to the depot and from Primorskaya to Begovaya, and we are observing the repair works on Novokrestovskaya, which is being converted into Zenit. Contrary to popular opinion, there are no structural problems there; according to the new concept, only the appearance is changing,” says Artyomov.
The most problematic areas are on Line 1, as it is the oldest one. A number of stations are included in the list for potential overhaul according to their service life: some require priority intervention, others can still be postponed. For example, the “Technological Institute” is now closed, with “Mayakovskaya” and “Ploshchad Vosstaniya” next in line.
When returning from trips, St. Petersburgers like to compare Russian public transport with foreign ones. In London, the subway is the most expensive (about 4.9 pounds per trip), in Stockholm it has quite an original design, in Italy it exists even in the smallest towns. In St. Petersburg, the conditions for the design and construction of the subway are inherently difficult: constant control is required due to the large amount of waterlogged soils. Compared to Finland, where trains pass through the rocks, we have to pay much more attention to waterproofing issues. At the same time, according to Artyom Artyomov, the St. Petersburg Metro absolutely cannot be classified as lagging behind. Moreover, it is one of the most advanced in terms of security and accessibility for passengers: technical equipment includes facial recognition systems, video surveillance, accident prevention and much more. And all of the systems are Russian-made.