By Julian Buijzen and Ben Copeland
Subway Secrets
Everything you wanted to know about Moscow's secret underground metro system.
A hidden metro line connecting the Kremlin and the airport, a system for officials to escape during a crisis or war or a way to transport weapons and other materials by the ministry of defence. Whatever it was made and used for, the secret metro-2 subway line underneath the city of Moscow certainly has some mysterious history. Time to explore the myth. This is what we know about the controversial metro system until now:

'Metro-2'

The underground metro system 'metro-2' runs parallel with the Moscow Metro, which is known as metro-1. Where the Moscow Metro is used daily by 9 million people, this secret second underground railway is not accessible for the regular public. The metro-2 system, which was built in the time of Stalin, has three lines according to the United States Department of Defence. One line runs from the Kremlin to the airport Vnukovo, which was originally a military airport but is now used for commercial flights too. Another line supposedly runs to an 'underground city' called Ramenki, which possibly can house 15.000 people in case of an emergency. Loads of rumours and mysteries revolve around this metro system, but none of this has officially been confirmed to be real.

A map composed by the United States Department of Defence shows the supposed 'metro-2' lines. The three dotted lines, all crossing the Kremlin, lead to different locations of national importance.

Building the secret Soviet complex

Because the Metro-2 project had to be secret its construction was complicated. During the building of the first public subway tunnels in Moscow, British engineers were flown in because they had experience building metro lines during the construction of the London Tube.

But the British presents in Moscow didn't last long. The Russian secret service accused the British of spying because during construction they gained too much knowledge of underground networks in Moscow. In 1933 they were deported from several show trials which ended the British help on the Moscow subway.

The Russians did the rest of the construction and the design of the subway themselves, making their deepest secrets better preserved. Building secret bunkers, subway lines and even entire cities with place for 15,000 people could remain a secret because thousands of workers didn't knew what they were building.

In the design of these complexes were reinforced tunnel tubes which it seemed for workers if they just built a new subway line. The workers got divided into different groups with different numbers and didn't know what they were really working on. Every worker built only a small piece of the complexes so they never knew what the whole complex looked like.

By building these complexes near subway lines under construction the whole labor force and all the materials needed didn't track the attention of citizens. Residents thought they just needed to construct normal subway lines.


Bunkers

During the Cold War, the Russians built a large underground network of military bunkers connected by underground lines. All major Russian services like the FSB or Ministry of Defense had underground complexes from which could be worked in wartime.

How big the whole system is, is until this day one of the greatest mysteries of the Soviets. It is also not known whether there are still parts in use. But its existance is certain.

Near Taganskaya station in the southeast of the city you can find one of the bunkers recently transformed into a museum. Visitors can see the bunkerthe way it looked at the time of the Cold War. The bunker was intended for communication purposes: military missions were planned and executed, was liaising with military installations across the country and even nuclear missiles could be launched from the bunker.

The complex consists of four reinforced underground metropipes and can withstand a nuclear attack on Moscow. It is in contact with the surrounding underground metropipes and the underground station Taganskaya where three major lines meet.

It is a good example of what the Soviets built under Moscow. Every day 10.000 people worked in the complex. They entered it from the surrounding stations without anybody noticed it. Just the name of the bunker, 42, suggests that there are at least 42 other hidden bunkers under Moscow.


Urban Explorers

All these possible functions of the metro-2 system and the rumours of secret bunkers sound as if it comes from a movie. No one has actually been in the secret underground or has seen the underground city. Most Muscovites don't even know about its existence. But there are loads of adventurous people that tried. So called urban explorers or 'diggers' have made several attempts to look for the metro-2 system. Digging is a popular hobby in Ukraine and Russia and mostly attracts adventurous amateurs looking for abandoned buildings, secret passages and underground mazes.

For many diggers it is the ultimate dream to find and discover the metro-2 line. The diggers in Russia are very repellent in telling more about their hobby. Sergey, a 21-year-old Muscovite, who is interested in abandoned buildings, said that 'a real digger won't talk about digging with anybody. Who will, wasn't in metro-2.' Some other diggers that we tried to talk to, told they 'never let go of any information about their discoveries, certainly not to foreigners.' The truth about metro-2 remains vague, and if a digger knows of the existence of the metro-2 line, it is not likely he will tell anybody.
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