The storied Moscow Metro Two
19 April, 2019
During a stay in the Russian capital, you can’t get around it: the Moscow Metro. Its magnificent architecture makes it one of the most beautiful in the world. In the meantime, this most important means of transport, with its 12 lines and 223 stations, has been in existence for 84 years.
But it is said that the Moscow Metro is not only glamorous and magnificent, but also holds many secrets. Because what some do not know: In the middle of Moscow there is supposed to be another metro – a secret subway network, which was named Metro Two. Rumor has it that Stalin commissioned the construction, but it was not completed until the 1980s.
There is no evidence of its existence – neither construction plans nor official orders or photos. But the myth remains adamant because there are actually guarded shafts and strange grates in the Moscow underground that block the paths behind them. Branching off tracks, whose destination is completely unclear, and blocked staircases can also be found in the Moscow underground. Is the way behind seemingly pointless dead ends in the Moscow Metro not over at all and actually leads to the secret Metro Two? The speculations are also fuelled by some places in Moscow where abandoned entrances can be found in shafts – places where no metro actually runs beneath.
Reason enough for conspiracy theorists to believe in the existence of Metro Two. Apparently, officials at the Moscow Metro depot have already inspected trains of a different design than those in regular operation, and the orphaned shafts must clearly be access shafts to the second, secret metro. There are also supposed to be eyewitnesses who want to have seen soldiers guarding these shafts – they even heard the clacking of their heavy boots.
But how exactly should Metro Two be constructed and what is its purpose?
The official Metro in Moscow connects the various stations via a total of twelve lines. The Metro Two extends over four further lines, which are not open to the public, but sometimes cross with the official lines. If this is the case, you can see tracks that seem to lead into nowhere. The first trains of Moscow Metro ran in 1935, while the trains of the secret subway network were rumoured to have rolled over the tracks for the first time in 1967. However, its last stations were supposedly built at the end of the 1980s. As already mentioned, the Soviet leader Josef Stalin himself is said to have ordered their construction, since the official metro is supposed to have been one of his favourite projects. If you believe the rumours, the Metro Two was built to connect the most important centres of power in Moscow. This means the Kremlin, the Moscow-Vnukovo government airport, and the underground air defence and general staff command posts.
High government officials, especially Josef Stalin at that time, can be evacuated secretly from Moscow at any time and as quickly as possible – in an emergency or in times of crisis and war. Therefore, it is not permanently in operation, but was only built for special situations.
But why are the rumours about the secret underground network so persistent without evidence such as photos or documents?
First of all, it is a fact that underground shelters have been set up and some signs actually point to a hidden transport network which, according to speculation, is 150 kilometres long. Government decisions do mention “special transport systems”, which are not explained in detail. Is that alone enough to believe in the existence of Metro Two?
The Russian writer Vladimir Ganik, who writes in his novel “Metro Two” about a city with its own subway network under the Russian metropolis of Moscow, also confirmed this belief. In an interview he insists that he didn’t just come up with everything. He is sure that the fountain on Teatralnaja Square provides access to the secret Metro Two.
His novel and the assertions it contains lure a horde of onlookers and adventurers underground. The so-called “Diggers” explore Moscow from below, breaking into the cellars of the “Seven Sisters”, into the ventilation shafts of the Metro and into other mysterious underground places. Especially after one o’clock in the morning the exploration tours have their most important time – the diggers hide in the stations and walk secretly through the tunnels during the nightly break of the Moscow Metro.
A well-known explorer is Jurij Sajzew, who deals exclusively with the topic “Metro Two” on a website. According to his own statements, he heard from his uncle for the first time about the existence of this secret underground system. Since then, the thought of it has kept him going and he began to do research. He claims that the plans to build the secret metro existed before 1935, when the official Moscow Metro was put into operation. After the Second World War, Metro Two was supposed to have been expanded to protect against nuclear attacks. The four lines were also not subway lines, but a car tunnel with embedded track. In case of a nuclear attack only the escape from the city would be important – therefore the roadway would only lead in one direction.
According to Sajzew, the most important line is Line 1, which has been fully operational since 1967 and runs from the Kremlin via the Lenin Library to Ramenki in western Moscow. He also claims that there is not only a secret metro under Ramenki, but also an entire city, in which up to 15,000 people could be accommodated in the event of a nuclear strike. The digger Jurij Sajzew wants to find evidence in a map, which was allegedly made by the US Department of Defense and is supposed to show the course of the secret metro.
Both Mikhail Gorbachev and his successor Boris Yeltsin are said to have known about the existence of the railway and the latter even commissioned the construction of the fourth line.
For conspiracists and diggers, statements like the following by Dmitry Gayev, the head of the Moscow Metro, are worth a lot: “There is a lot of talk about the existence of secret transport tunnels. I won’t deny anything. I’d be surprised if they didn’t exist.” Statements like these reinforce the curiosity of the mystery hunters and make them all the more ambitious in their search for the mysterious Metro Two.
But if it really exists, there should be many people who were either involved in the construction or at least sat in the trains once. Of course, there were numerous reports of people claiming this – without any evidence. According to his statements, former vice-premier Michail Poltoranin had been travelling in the secret subway network several times and a former KGB cleaning woman had been regularly travelling with the legendary Metro Two in the 1990s.
There was never any official confirmation of the existence of the mysterious second metro. But the secrecy inspires the imagination and offers material for interesting topics of conversation. For some time the Metro Two was the favourite topic of the Russian press, even mutated giant rats in the hidden tunnels were talked about. Today, not a word is said about them, but the rumors about a mysterious second subway network are still alive today and are part of the Russian capital.