I believe every Kyiv resident will agree that subway is the cheapest, fastest and most reliable public transport in the city. Half a century has passed since 1960, when the first tube train left "Vokzalna" station and arrived at "Dnipro". The underground is no longer an adventure. Kyiv metro has expanded and passengers have got used to it. At the same time, workers of the subway have more and more work with every year - city needs grow, but trains do not get younger.  

Doors Open Day in Kyiv subway has become a good tradition, which helps resident of the city to remember about hard work of people, who provide them everyday comfort. This time all comers could visited the electric engine house "Kharkivske" and learn professional secrets of its workers. ForUm was among the visitors.

Kharkivske engine house serves the rolling stock of Syrets-Pecherska line and is one of the most up-to-date engine house in the capital. It was built at a state-of-the-art level and put into operation in August of 2007.

Chief of the engine house "Kharkivske" Volodymyr Pashkov tells that it is designed to serve 200 cars, but currently serves 227. The staff numbers 520 workers, including 194 engine drivers.

Technical inspection of every car is held every 20 hours. If necessary, workers replace out-of-service parts. The work is not easy, as everything must be made manually.

This is a working case of a subway mechanic.

Among other works there is machining of wheels, being done on a special machine tool. The chief of the engine house explains it is need to obtain perfect tread circle. Any imperfection may lead to malfunction or failure of a wheel part or even a rail. Maximum allowed irregularity makes 0.3 mm.

Volodymyr Pashkov notes that service limit of underground cars is up to 30 years, and that the engine house does not have worn-out cars - the majority of the rolling stocks was produced in 90s.

This department conducts audit of pneumatic equipment. Such devices service 6-8 months, after which get removed and registered. If something gets out of order, it is easy to trace what and when was done with a malfunctioning part.

All pneumatic equipment for subway is produced in Russia. We do not have capacities for now. Many devices were produced in 90s, but rarities occur as  well.

These parts have already passed the inspection and are ready for further use.

Journalists were invited into once of the cars, which have been inspected. The engine driver and instructor Oleksiy Murychyov is holding a true master-class on driving in the subway and shares his secrets.

Oleksiy has been working in Kyiv subway for 20 years, and the last 10 years he has been teaching young specialists. He says it is not so easy to become an engine driver. Moreover, employment is not given to women.

"One of the peculiarities of the job is deficit of time for decision making. Engine driver does not know what may happen and when, but must be ready to react immediately. Women, as you know, are more emotional. Moreover, engine drivers not only sit in the cabin, but walk in tunnels and from car to car. If someone falls on rails he has to take him up. This is a man's job, like those divers or fighter pilots," the specialist believes.

The shift of an engine driver lasts 6-8 hours. Once a year all drivers must undergo medical inspection, including magnetic resonance tomography, psychological and drug tests. Apart from good health, potential engine drivers must have engineering education and minimum 18 years of age.

If an applicant passes all medical inspections, he becomes the third-class mechanic and works as one until completes the course or school of drivers. After the school he starts practicing. In total, the studies take about a year.   

However, despite all complications, there are always many applicants wishing to work as engine drivers. Employee turnover is not high, and workers retire as scheduled. As we learned later, salary of an engine driver depends on years of service - minimum 3000 hryvnias, maximum 8000 hryvnias.


The job of engine drivers is considered stressful. There are cases when tube trains suddenly stop and refuse to move further. Drivers often have to deal with "suiciders" - to take them off the rails and give guidance. Sometimes they go into tunnels to search stray dogs which obstruct traffic.   
In driver's cabin there is the displayed speed system, which impedes a driver to go over the speed limit of 80 km/h.

Tube trains also must "take shower". Five or six times per month cars go to the carriage washing unit and undergo washing with special chemicals.

Clean train is leaving for work.

Dispatch unit is the heart of the engine house. Traffic of tube trains depends on this man. The monitor is showing the position of every rolling stock on line and its technical condition. 

Traction engineer Anna Seleznyova says that that duties of a dispatcher include train timing for every day. The dispatcher must take into account all nuances, including possible delays and crashes. In the result, time schedule for rush hours remind complicated scientific drafts.

In case of malfunctioning of switches, the dispatcher must  take this crank handle and fix t hem manually. Thanks God, it does not happen often.

Before every shift drivers must visit the medical unit for examination. Paramedic Natalia Levko says paramedics know all workers very well and can tell immediately if something is wrong.

"We conduct visual examination, ask about any complaints, if there are any we control. We have no right to let an engine driver work even if he has a toothache. Before every shift we measure blood pressure, pulse, sometimes temperature. If there are suspicions a driver was drinking we make Alcont control. However, our workers value their job and do not abuse," Natalai says.

In the diners employees do not eat for free, but prices are very moderate. This lunch, for example, costs only 14 hryvnias.

For engine drivers working at night there are rest rooms, equipped on the sixth floor. There is complete silence on the floor not to disturb the sleep of drivers. Workers do not use any alarm clocks, but wake up to the announcement of the attendant.

Journalists were also invited to visit the rarity car # 2135 of the first rolling stock of Kyiv underground. It was brought back from Saint Petersburg to be displayed as a museum of Kyiv metro history.

Looking at certificates and awards for accident-free run, one of the workers sighs sadly: "There used to be tournaments and competitions among engine drivers and metro teams, prizes and awards... Now we have only "scheduled work"."

Having studied all lanes of the engine house, ForUm visited another interesting place - the duty station at "Chervonyi hutir" metro station.

Attendant Antonina Chemeris tells that surveillance cameras help the workers to maintain order in the station, but such cameras are installed only in new stations. Moreover, there is a police officer patrolling the entrance of the station and any worker can contact him through emergency line.

Indeed, daily trips in metro have become for us so habitual, that no other thoughts apart from what station to get out come to our mind. However, it is enough to look at the underground from a different angle and talk to its staff and we will discover the whole new world.

Anastasia Pika


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