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Underground climate. Ventilation systems are renewed in St. Petersburg’s subway

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Outdated engines are replaced with newer and more powerful ones. All works are held only during nighttime – not to disrupt the subway’s work. But when doors shut for passengers, another – not any less active – life starts beneath the soil. Alexander Burenin went down a shaft.

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Alexander Burenin, reporter: “It’s quite unusual, but the majority of subway’s workers actually work during the night – about 60% of them. Electricity is cut off at approximately 1.25 am, which gives them 4 hours to do a lot of everyday things. Work is in full swing – both on the station and in the tunnel”

Even ladder is being transported on the rails here. Several brigades are busy fixing the ceiling. Some wash the platform, some replace burnt out lights. Doing this in the daytime, with all the passengers around, is practically impossible. Main works these days are being held between “Prospekt Prosvesheniya” and “Ozerki” stations. Ventilation shafts are concealed from one’s eye, but it’s here that the subway’s climate is made. On the left is the 1980’s machine – it lives through its last days, as the new one is being assembled just next to it.

Alexey Karmanov, head of electromechanical service: “We’ve already replaced 18 such ventilation mechanisms, 130 more to go. By 2017, we’re planning to replace 10 of those per year. Trust me, it’s a decent number considering how overloaded with work the subway system is”.

The new machine has the capacity of 220 thousand cubic meters of air per hour. Those are made in Russia, in the city of Artemovsk. Unlike the outgoing one, its simpler in both assembly and servicing. Ventilation itself is cut off while the work goes on – as well as shutting down the hermetic shaft door. Otherwise it would be freezing cold here. Behind the door is the 60-meter-long hallway with strong wind. It is sort of an air highway from the outside – where its currently -15C. Subway workers jokingly offer to open it, but journalists trust their words.

“Fasten your seatbelts, we’re taking off!”. It really does remind an airplane – both in how it looks and how it sounds. Certainly, the engine is not taken to full throttle. Specialists tell us – at maximum speed, next to the new vent, the air flow becomes stronger than that of a helicopter take-off. Incoming air gets naturally heated to a comfortable temperature – 23 to 27 degrees, depending on the season. It goes into alarm mode if the temperature exceeds 29 degrees. It also depends on how deep a station is. For instance, it’s always warmer at “Avtovo” in the summer than at “Proletarskaya”. And vice-versa in the winter. 

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