MALCOLM MUNRO in MOSCOW: City authorities in Moscow say so much progress has been made to improving the Russian capital’s once notorious road and rail infrastructure recently that when it comes to transport they are ‘ready now’ to stage the 2018 World Cup.
“The World Cup may still be five years away but in terms of our transport infrastructure we are adequately ready now,” said Marat Husnulin, Deputy Mayor for Urban Development and Construction. He promised “even more changes to come during next five years” featuring 400km of new roads and flyovers.
Russia was awarded host rights to the World Cup by the executive committee of international governing body FIFA in December 2010 after a controversial bidding process. It beat opposition from Belgium/Holland, England and Portugal/Spain.
The Russian bid, closely monitored from start to successful finish,had promised massive improvements to the country’s infrastructure, in particular the intercity transport networks linking the rest of the western part of Russia to Moscow.
Husnulin added: ‘Moscow used to be quite difficult to get around but massive investment on new roads, bridges and fly-overs including an entirely new third inner ring road has changed all that.
‘The same is true of the rail and underground network which has already been fully modernised. In the past few years, 13 kilometers of new underground has been built and six new underground stations have opened.
“This has improved the transport situation for 600,000 Muscovites. By the end of this year 14kr more will be built, which will beat the Soviet record when even in the best times never exceeded 13km per year.”
The world federation’s focus on the importance of urban transport has been clear from its concerns over the slow pace of progress in Brazilian cities concerning next year’s World Cup.
Russian authorities have always insisted there would be no such delays.
Husnukin again: “We plan to improve transport situation even further in order to make travel comfortable inside the city as well as between Moscow and Moscow region with 20 new underground lines totalling 160km making life easier for millions of residents.
“At the same time we will perform modernization of railway transport. Under this program it is planned to build 240km of additional rail and purchase 2,500 modern carriages as well as building convenient connection hubs for railways and underground
‘Moscow will be a perfect base for football fans with easy and affordable transport and lots to see and do between matches. It won’t be caught out with last minute infrastructure problems, because today we do our best to be well ahead of the game.”
Public transport reliability and travel times have improved significantly with the journey time from the main Moscow international airport to Red Square down go less than an hour.