MOSCOW Metro has begun 15 days of passenger tests with a Stadler ESh2 Kiss double-deck EMU on the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) line, after successfully completing loading gauge tests along the line.

Aeroexpress ordered a fleet of 16 four-car and nine six-car EMUs in 2013, although it subsequently renegotiated the order to 16 trains, with the remaining nine sold to Azerbaijan Railways (ADY) and Georgian Railways. The first 160km/h train was introduced between Kiyevskaya and Vnukovo International Airport in November 2017 ahead of the 2018 World Cup. One of these six-car trains is now in use for the tests on the MCC. The ESh2 EMU was launched on the MCD in early November 2019.

Moscow Metro says it has experienced strong growth in passenger numbers on the MCC and Moscow Central Diameters (MCD), with passenger numbers increasing past pre-pandemic levels. The MCC carried 98 million passengers in the first year, 124 million in the second year and 142 million in the third year, and already carried 71 million passengers in the first half of 2021. Services are currently provided with 242 pairs of Lastochka EMUs during the week, and 211 pairs of EMUs on weekends. Each train has capacity for 1500 passengers. Services operate at four-minute headways during peak periods, and eight-minute headways during off-peak.

“No one could have predicted that the passenger traffic would grow at this rate when launching the MCC,” says deputy mayor of Moscow for transport, Mr Maksim Liksutov. “Today, four minutes is the maximum possible headway for the existing infrastructure, further reduction requires further development, so with our colleagues we are working in that direction. However, at the same time we are looking for alternative solutions. One of them is the launch of the roomier two-decker electric trains. Today, as an experiment, a six-car Stadler electric train was launched on the MCC. On the basis of the electric train operation analysis and after getting the passengers opinion, we will be able to make any further decisions on the possible usage of similar two-decker trains on the Circle.”

The 54km MCC was launched in 2016, and has 31 stations including 18 interchanges with the metro. Moscow Metro says the launch of the D1 and D2 lines have improved accessibility for more than 4 million people living in 45 Moscow districts and six Moscow regional cities. The MCD consists of 60 stations with 21 interchanges.

Moscow Metro says the loading gauge test showed that all stations on the MCC are able to accommodate the ESh2 EMU, with the platform height and floor height matching and no issues passing through tunnels or under bridges and underpasses.

“The mayor of Moscow, Mr Sergey Sobyanin, instructed us to work on the Circle improvement,” Liksutov says. “Together with our colleagues from Russian Railways (RZD) we put a lot of effort to make the trips by the Circle convenient: double headway reduction, renewed train fleet on the ‘urban’ train set, opened and will continue to open new concourses.”

This includes developing autonomous trains for the line, with testing underway on a Lastochka EMU at GoA3 at the Scherbinka test site, with a goal to increase to GoA 4, which would decrease headways to three minutes.