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Yesterday and today

Construction history

First underground train construction project in Warsaw was designed in the second decade of the 20th century. The project involved construction of two crisscrossing underground train lines: the first, located on the most encumbered direction North-South, that would start from Plac Unii Lubelskiej to Muranów, and second, on the East-West axis, joining Wola and Praga districts. Geological drillings were performed in 1927 followed by design of underground train tunnel crossing with just constructed PKP (Polish State Railways) city rail tunnel and connection of underground train station to the Dworzec Główny (Warsaw Main Rail Station).

Due to the fact that the city alone would not be able to bear such an investment, talks with representatives of Western consortiums were made to establish their financial participation in the planned construction. Economic crisis of the beginning of 1930's brought those actions to a halt. In 1938 underground train design research was revived. President Starzyński established the Bureau of Underground Railway Research (Biuro Studiów Kolei Podziemnej) that began to update previously designed layouts. A project of a total length of 46 km was designed to be constructed in stages for the next 35 years.

Until September 1939, general blueprints of the construction were made, together with two underground train lines profiles, tunnel intersections layouts with the water supply network and sewage system, preliminary calculation for tunnel construction and train stock clearance as well as preliminary cost estimate of the construction. The majority of those documents were lost during the Warsaw’s Uprising. Due to the World War II 80% of Capital’s buildings were destroyed. This, however, did not thwart the underground railway plans.

As soon as in 1945 the first project of fast urban railway was designed to connect northern and southern peripheral districts, Młociny and Służew, with the Warsaw's center as well as eastern and western districts by rail from Wola through Śródmieście to Gocław and Wawer. The total length was to be 64 km, out of which 26 km were to be shallow tunnels. Studies concerning details of the project were made until the end of 1940’s.

In 1950 the Government made a decision to build a deep underground train system. Established at that time “Metroprojekt”, a state owned company, designed underground train system network (on Warsaw west bank) involving construction of underground train lines on North-South and East-West axes. Military and geopolitical reasons proved to be more important than city's transportation needs: drilling of a deep tunnel under Vistula bed was started as the first. The width of a tunnel was to enable train cars to pass through. The construction was stopped after 3 years (in 1953) due to being too difficult and, above all, too expensive. The Main Office for the Control of the Press, Publications and Public Spectacles (Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk) withholds all publications concerning underground train construction.

Momentary hope for underground train idea revival was brought by investment boom of the 1970’s. Old projects of shallow underground train were “dusted off” and technical-economical guidelines were made. Unfortunately, car and road lobby proved to be stronger and underground train was left with insufficient funding. In the beginning of 1980’s it was proven that individual motorization and even extensive development of road system will not solve Warsaw transportation problems. Development of mass transportation, including construction of an underground train, was justified by the necessity.

In January of 1982, Wojciech Jaruzelski announced in the Parliament (Sejm) the construction of first underground train line in Warsaw starting the next year.

Several dozen years history of endeavor for an underground train in Warsaw ends on the day of 15th April 1983 – the symbolic day of the first excavation support pile driven in.

Despite “official” and spontaneous support, the beginning of the construction was not easy. Builders had at their disposal resolution of the Parliament which, in fact, was full of wishful thinking. Ministers mentioned in the resolution in practice did not hold enforcement powers, possessed neither equipment nor resources for the construction. Scope of activity had to be limited to the country market and markets of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (RWPG) countries. Barter-based economy prevailed. Investor's and designers’ determination and stubbornness brought the result commonly assessed as good by representatives of state transportation environments as well as by foreign professionals. Methods of securing the excavation walls by means of so called Berliner Wall (Berlin type pit lining) were fully mastered and adjusted, modifying, as the construction progressed, the technology of driving in and extracting the piles. Technology of building diaphragm walls was mastered, acting as shell walls, and later as construction walls. Another branch was to fully implement the technology of injection bolts that substituted for excavation walls’ cross-beams. In fact, one can say that it was the first mass use of such elements in the country. The technology changed from cable bolts of small load-bearing capacity to strand bolts of higher durability and longevity. Also the engineering thoughtfulness can be praised in the field of underground train furnishings. Polish expectations were often higher than of other countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Therefore it was necessary to implement total innovations in our industry, such as dry type traction transformers (non-oil), non-flammable cable coatings, new types of switchgears, direct current circuit breakers for high voltage short-circuit current and modern elements of train control system. Those were the achievements achieved in an environment of very limited resources, machinery and salary possibilities that existed in 1980's. It is important to emphasize that those initiatives came across full understanding of factories, designers and research institutes, without which such results would not be possible to achieve.

Underground train construction had to endure particularly hard time before fundamental changes in political and social system in our country occurred. As a central investment it was situated in the area of expenses, among which funds were sought to save unsettled budget of the country.  On the other hand, as a long-term and non-profitable investment, it could not count on a lot of defenders. As a result, in 1985 yearly expenses in the country budget began to considerably stray from initial schedule of expenditures. Already in 1985 it was publicly announced that the construction of the first underground train line will be prolonged by 2 years and the first section by one year. In the following years, by decreasing expenses in relation to initial guidelines it was no longer deemed appropriate to document the due date consequences resulted by such behavior. Simultaneously, problems with the supply began to deepen, both in the country market and markets of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance countries. Central budget allocated insufficient funds for the construction, which in addition were irregular and delayed. The General Directorate for Underground Train Construction (Generalna Dyrekcja Budowy Metra) was more and more indebted to contractors. In view of lack of financing prospects, decisions were made to withhold construction to the North of Nowowiejka street and to concentrate funds to finish the first section of Kabaty-Politechnika. This entailed enterprise contracts’ corrections, freezing construction sites, reorganizing the General Directorate for Underground Train Construction involving, among other things making over 100 people redundant. It became obvious that the due date of commissioning of finished underground train line will be substantially delayed.

However, economic and social changes cured our relations in the construction market. Contractors supply increased, selection of companies became viable. Less technologically and financially reliable contractors were dismissed. A proper role of the term general contractor was established. All resource- and equipment-related problems were transferred upon a contractor. Simultaneously, access to the world’s most modern technologies became available. Systems that were so far unavailable on the markets of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance countries, and necessary or desired in utilization, were implemented. Those systems included: fire alarm system, radio communication system, energy and sanitary control systems, wireless communication system, sound system and industrial TV system. Pursuant to the agreement concluded between Peoples Republic of Poland (PRL) and the USSR (ZSRR) commissioned underground train line should be equipped in train stock of Soviet production. 90 cars necessary for the first section of underground train line to operate were given as a gift for Warsaw.

Out of this number, 10 cars were delivered at the turn of 1989/1990 and another part of the gift was cancelled when the Soviet Union collapsed.

In this case vigorous attempts to buy stock were made by sending invitation to tender among national and foreign manufacturers. Over a dozen of bids were given, but the ultimate decision to purchase 32 car in St. Petersburg was made due to the fact that only this manufacturer undertook to deliver the cars in time enabling timely commissioning of the first section and in price corresponding to the city’s financial possibilities (the government declined to fund the purchase of the stock from the central budget). Carriages delivered to Warsaw in 1994 differed from the serial carriages by the way of implementation of non-flammable and non-toxic parts (pursuant to requirements of Polish Norm (Polska Norma) for train stock) and design in interoperational stages thoroughly controlled by Polish rail supervision (polski dozór kolejowy). As a result, technologically simpler stock was purchased, lagging behind world’s modern solutions, which, however, was fully operational and customized to Warsaw’s transportation requirements and fulfilled current safety regulations.

Customizations to utilization of the underground train line started soon after the construction began. Due to the lack of Polish experience, foreign literature and materials from other urban communication companies were collected. Training was organized as well, mainly in Leningrad, Budapest and Prague. Taking into consideration actual situation on the Warsaw’s job market at the time, it was decided to organize, for the needs of the underground train, training from scratch by launching separate classes in technical schools and vocational high schools. A dialogue between higher education facilities was established too. In total, between 1985-1990 “underground train” classes were established in five metropolitan vocational schools, out of which the most important was the Railway Technical School (Technikum Kolejowe) where future operators and workers operating train control systems' safety devices were trained. Unfortunately, this well-organized action did not bring anticipated results. 4-year commissioning delay resulted in the necessity of dissolution of the entire training system. Staff admission was made by the way of public recruitment. Underground train was a sort of a magnet that throughout several weeks clotted the corridors of the building with candidates willing to take the job. It was accepted to hire the youth first, including graduates of schools with professions useful in the underground train.

At the end of 1994 the first section of the underground train was prepared to begin the operation. At that time, trains began to operate according to the normal timetable, just without passengers. New provisions concerning giving consent to commissioning to the use of buildings, resulting from amended Construction Law (in force as of 1st January 1995), reorganization of building supervision services and recommendations of some public services responsible for safety resulted in necessity of undertaking additional works on the first section before its commissioning and the start of operation with passengers. Undoubtedly, this provisions were a consequence of series of fires and terrorist attacks on underground train lines in a few cities around the world.

As a result, the first “official” train set off on the finished underground train section on the 7th April 1995.

On 17th June 1996 the City Council of Warsaw passed the resolution concerning continuation of first underground train line from A-13 “Centrum” station to A-23 “Młociny” station, whereas the Board of the Capital City of Warsaw passed a resolution on the 8th October 1996 concerning approval of construction schedule of the Warsaw’s first underground train line of the section from A-13 “Centrum” station to A-23 “Młociny”. A year later, on 27th October 1997 the Board of the Capital City of Warsaw approved long-term investment plan for the city of Warsaw for years 1997-2001. The plan took into consideration the appropriate level of funds for particular years. State budget was also considered as a source for underground train construction. Due to the fact that in recent years state involvement in funding the underground train construction was waning substantially, it was hard to predict what would be the amount of funds to be contributed by the government for investment plans in Warsaw in the following years. Dramatic situation concerning funding the construction of the first underground train line in Warsaw occurred after reduction of subsidy from the state budget, resulting in impossibility of continuation of the rhythmicity of the construction, achieving investment optimization and causing to fail to meet the deadlines of commissioning of the underground train sections.

Underground train section to the South of A13 „Centrum” station to A15 “Ratusz” station was designed based on experiences collected during the construction and operation of the already operated underground train line. Construction methods change to modern ones, access to new techniques and technologies resulted in cheaper construction costs than already built underground train line to the South of A13 "Centrum”. Underground train stations were shortened from about 300 m in length to 156 m, simultaneously keeping all required operational and technological functions. Contractors of “Świętokrzyska” and “Ratusz” stations are selected by the way of tenders. New Alstom cars are put in use.

Until the end of 1990’s the underground railway track length amounted to 12.5 kilometers and got bigger by newly opened “Centrum” station. Although next stations began to operate after the year 2000, underground train, as the modern, comfortable, safe and the fastest means of transport started to have more and more passengers.

On 11th May 2001 “Świętokrzyska” and “Ratusz Arsenał” stations were put into service, and at the end of 2003 “Dworzec Gdański” station. In April 2005 the rail track length was extended to almost 18 kilometers due to the “Plac Wilsona” station being put into operation. A year and a half later, a new station was opened - “Marymont”.

In 2006 Metro Warszawskie finished preparations for realization of construction in the area of Bielany district, located in North West part of Warsaw. Underground train line construction on the “Bielany” section was divided into three stages, for which three separate tenders were made. The first stage included construction of B20 track tunnels between A19 “Marymont” and A20 “Słodowiec” stations and the very A20 “Słodowiec” station. Second stage encompassed construction of B21 and B22 tunnels leading to A21 “Stare Bielany” and A22 “Wawrzyszew” stations and both of the very stations. The last stage was the construction of B23 track tunnel to “Młociny” station, A23 “Młociny” station and transport node of the same name.

In 2008 Metro Warszawskie sp. z o.o. finished construction and commissioned four underground train stations for passenger utilization in the northern part of Warsaw in the area of Bielany district. On 23rd April 2008 „Słodowiec” station was added to utilization, and on 25th October three new stations were opened: “Stare Bielany”, “Wawrzyszew” and “Młociny” and “Młociny” communication junction. Thus construction of the first underground train line was complete.

Opening of four stations in the northern part of Warsaw extended the length of the first underground train line to about 23 kilometers and increased the number of stations to 21.

Construction of “Bielany” section was financed from European Union funds in the amount not exceeding 50% of total project costs within the Transport Structural Funds for the years 2004-2006.

Underground train construction history:

  • 1925 - Local authorities passed a resolution on underground railway (“Metropolitan”) project layout design,
  • 1927 - approval of the sketchy layout of underground train tracks locations and performance of the first geological studies,
  • 1938 - the Bureau of Underground Railway Research (Biuro Studiów Kolei Podziemnej) was established,
  • 1939 - World War II holds design and preparation works,
  • 1950 - Peoples Republic of Poland (PRL) passed a resolution on construction of an underground train in Warsaw,
  • 1951 - deep underground train construction began,
  • 1953 - construction limited to the experimental section,
  • 1957 - construction definitively suspended,
  • 1974 - until this year research works were conducted,
  • 1975 - technological-economical guidelines of the first underground train line in Warsaw were made,
  • 1982 - Council of Ministers passes resolution no. 266/82 concerning construction of the first underground train line in Warsaw.
  • 1983 - The General Directorate for Underground Train Construction (Generalna Dyrekcja Budowy Metra), acting as Investor and the General Contractor of the Investment,
  • 1983 - On the 15th April the first steel pile is driven in on the track of underground train excavation.
  • 1985 - tunnel construction started with the use of the shield,
  • 1986 - funds and the scope of the investment was verified, end of the construction postponed,
  • 1987 - construction funding system changed, central budget no longer the only source of funding the construction,
  • 1989 - decision of abandonment of prioritized construction of A12 “Pl. Konstytucji” and A16 “Muranów” stations,
  • 1990 - Warsaw receives 10 Soviet cars as a gift,
  • 1990 - financial problems impelled city authorities to make a decision reducing underground train construction works,
  • 1994 - purchase of 32 Russian cars,
  • 1995 – first underground train line section of the total length of 11 km commissioned to utilization, from “Kabaty” station to “Politechnika” station,
  • 1998 - next section of the underground train line added to utilization of the total length of 1.5 km to the „Centrum” station,
  • 2000 - delivery of the first batch of 4 Alstom modern trains (24 cars),
  • 2001 - next section of the underground train line put into service of the total length of 1.7 km, to the “Ratusz” station at plac Bankowy,
  • Date of commissioning of the underground train line section to operation to “Dw. Gdański” station: 20th December 2003,
  • Date of commissioning of  the underground train line section to operation to “Pl. Wilsona” station: 8th April 2005,
  • Date of commissioning of the underground train line section to operation to “Marymont” station: 29th December 2006,
  • Date of commissioning of the underground train line section to operation to “Słodowiec” station: 23th April 2008,
  • Date of commissioning of the underground train line section to operation to “Młociny” station: 25th October 2008.
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