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Based on a true story: large-scale Emergency Ministry’s drill took place on St. Petersburg’s subway


As scenario goes, a train derailed during the night between “Dostoyevskaya” and “Spasskaya” stations and crashed into a wall separating the tunnels. The main task of the drill – to work on coordination of all emergency services in an extreme situation. Head of city’s administration Georgiy Poltavchenko and head of the subway Vladimir Garyugin went underground during the night. Dmitriy Kopytov witnessed the events.


Dmitriy Kopytov, reporter: “150 personnel and 32 machinery units. There haven’t been drills as big as this one in St. Petersburg for 7 years. The last one was held when the “Parnas” station was opened. Life dictates its scenario – almost every detail resembles the tragedy in Moscow. Only this time the tunnel was also filled with smoke.

A report to the dispatch room is like an echo of the Moscow tragedy – a train with passengers derailed in a tunnel because of a junction problem. And crashed into a concrete wall at full speed. The first two carts derailed and jammed. The third one is on fire. 30 people are stuck inside. The emergency situation happened between “Dostoyevskaya” and “Spasskaya” stations.

The train didn’t reach the station by only a few hundred meters. Panicked people run on the rails. Rescuers had to use special transport means to reach the crash site. Wounded passengers are dragged onto the platform.

The severely wounded are taken out on stretchers by rescuers. Others find their way out of tunnel on their own. Tens of ambulances are waiting for the wounded on the ground. 

Dmitriy Kopytov, reporter: “The exercise is so big that a real helicopter was used to evacuate the fake wounded. According to the scenario, it delivered a pregnant woman to a hospital”

Students of Emergency Ministry’s University and of firemen-rescuers College played the roles of the wounded. They used professional make up – to make it look more like real life. It was all done to make the drill look as close as possible to conditions of a real catastrophe.

Leonid Belyaev, head of Emergency Ministry Department in St. Petersburg: “In an emergency situation, escalators will only work upwards. That means all work is manual. Plus, if there’s smoke and high temperatures, it escalates from bad to worse gradually.

The main task of the drill is to work out coordination between rescuers, subway workers and authorities, just in case a real crash happens on the subway. Acting governor Georgiy Poltavchenko witnessed the events – both underground and on the ground.

Georgiy Poltavchenko, acting governor of St. Petersburg: “Such forces never use words like “excellent”. Its always either “good” or “satisfactory”. Today its “good”. I think there are enough strengths and resources to make decisions and provide help in such difficult circumstances. Despite this was only a drill, the people put maximum strength into this”

Nobody directly connects this drill to the tragedy in Moscow. But parallels are visible. Both subway systems have been running for half-a-century. Rails and trains are worn out. Thousands of residents and tourists are using St. Petersburg’s subway every day.

Vladimir Garyugin, CEO “Peterburgskiy Metropoliten”: “Transport is a zone of high risk. But we have highly-skilled professionals. That’s why I think this tragedy which happened in Moscow is unreal in St. Petersburg”

The drill ended around 4 am. And half past 5 the subway started working again. Passengers had no idea what events unraveled after dark at “Sadovaya” and “Spasskaya”