The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

MOSCOW’S “METRO-2” - The Ultimate “Secret Subway”

Home of So Few Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing

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IMPORTANT NOTE: FOC's ("Friends of the Cabal") (you know, like "FOB's"--"Friends of Bill" [Clinton]) have now all been promoted to "Adjuct Scholars" of The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. You know, like Wendell Cox, Randal O'Toole, et al are "Adjunct Scholars" (sic) to the Reason Foundation, the Buckeye Institute, the Cascade Policy Institute, and 500+ other conservative/libertarian "Think (sic) Tanks". Congratulations, Dudes!

From the Cabalmaster:


In bad old days you may visit CCCP, but is necessary to observe important rule!

Do not behave as CIA agent! Do not search for secret “METPO” line to Kremlin!


We here at The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal are pleased to bring to you the “ultimate secret subway story” – “Metro-2,” or, in Russian, “Metro Dva.”

Or maybe it’s more than a mere “story.”

We don’t know.

We doubt that anyone outside the inner circle of Russia’s political and military leadership knows the “whole story” -- and they’re not telling.

Are you tantalized yet?

(OK, OK, the opening was a bit corny . . . that’s why you like our blog . . . but the rest of this post is not a put-on. Some Intrepid Websurfers may have searched the Web under “Moscow Metro-2.” Hardcore gamers may have seen this item; and similar pages; the game was inspired in part by “Metro-2” lore.)

“Metro-2,” by the way, is a nickname; we’ll describe the origins below. This system is ( . . . probably . . . ) called something other than “Metro Dva” . . . if it exists . . .

In rough outline, the deep-level “Metro-2” lines were built from the ‘50s, radiating from a bunker deep underground the Kremlin in Moscow. The first lines reached underground command posts at the periphery of Moscow. Extensions, built as recently as the 1990s, reached other military facilities, a military airport, and even Boris Yeltsin’s dacha!

Or so it is said.

You may have gathered that we Opinionated Ones are agnostic when it comes to Metro-2.

To say the least.

We are highly dissatisfied with the character of this story, for it resembles a parody excursion by public transport into the murky world of “intelligence.” But that character is an inherent aspect of “The Legend of Metro Dva.” It’s important to remember that the Ultimate Secret Subway Story comes from a country where conspiracy theories are a way of life, almost a high art. We suspect that some Intrepid Websurfers will be driven “crackers” by our succession of “reality checks.” But we’re confident that most will understand (and yes, we did have fun writing this!).

There is quite a bit of information available online about “Metro-2,” most of it in Russian but some also in English. As you’ll see, some aspects of the story are told in considerable detail; the overall impression is quite compelling. This aspect should quickly become obvious to Websurfers able to read Russian. There are enough details online – more than enough – to flesh out a story that, on the whole, sounds plausible.

On the other hand, we must point out that virtually all of this information is speculative, unsupported by documentation such as photographs. There are narratives told by people who said they helped build Metro Dva, and urban spelunkers claim to have “seen” Metro Dva. But there are no explicit “firsthand” accounts . . . no surprise; anyone who provided one would probably get a one-way trip to some remote “gulag.”

There is also no “independent verification” – other than that published by the United States Department of Defense. This we find interesting, but not convincing.

It should be obvious that some, or all, of the “Metro-2” information online could be unfounded speculation, urban legend – or dezinformatsiya, not necessarily of the Soviet (or Russian) variety.

Intrepid Websurfers are again reminded that the USSR was a place where lack of transparency left much room for conjecture, and today’s Russia remains a place where conspiracy theories are built on conspiracy theories.

What do we think?

We’re opinionated, but not unduly so, and we do try to be reasonable. And that has put us in a bind.

(. . . ahem . . . )



(But notice how we’re discussing this right up front . . . as the Fearless Fudgemeister and his minions NEVER do . . .)

None of us was prepared to reject every last part of the Metro-2 story. In other words, we ruled out “100 percent false.”

(Nor were any of us prepared to accept all details available online as “100 percent true,” but that’s not what put us in a bind.)


With considerable reluctance, all of us recognized that our “comrade” had a point. We had, in effect, concluded that the Metro Dva stories are true -- to some unknown extent, an extent likely to remain so for a long time.

Another astute TransitCabalist then pointed out that no one ever gets it 100 percent right, 100 percent of the time.





And so:

We think it likely – although not certain – that “something special” does exist below the streets of Moscow, separate from the Moscow Metro – but not necessarily to the reported extent, nor in the reported configuration.

For example, “Metro-2” could in fact be Moscow’s version of the Chicago Tunnel Company, with scale and extent exaggerated by speculation – and purposeful deception, aka dezinformatsiya.

In addition, we recognize that whole thing could be false – the product of overactive imaginations, “seasoned” here and there by “pinches” of dezinformatsiya. However, we tend to hold this possibility “at arm’s length.” You don’t fool anyone if you lie all the time, suggesting that the Metro Dva lore has some basis in fact.


Even if “Metro-2” exists to the extent reported, it won’t form part of a Paris-style RER or regional metro network anytime soon.


We’ll start with the “definitive” map, by Juri Zaitsev. For the benefit of Intrepid Websurfers not familiar with Moscow, we note that this map covers a very large area. The distance from the Kremlin (where all lines meet) northward to the “Sadovaye Koltso” (“Garden Ring”), about 20mm on the screen, is about 3 km (2 mi) “on the ground.” This implies a scale of about 1:150,000. The eastward distance from the Kremlin to the outer-peripheral motorway (“Moskovskaya koltsevaya avtodoroga”), plainly visible on the map but colored brown, is about 14 km (9 miles).

Intrepid Websurfers who are also film buffs may remember “The Great Escape,” based on a true story, in which three clandestine escape tunnels were named “Tom,” “Dick” and “Harry”

(Details of the true story are here

In that spirit, we have named the Metro Dva lines shown on the map as follows:

“Iosif” (Stalin; “1954-55”).
also check this out; no, no, no, a thousand times no, we did not make that up!

“Leonid” (Brezhnev, “1967”)

“Yuri” (Andropov, “1986”),6903,920058,00.html

“Boris” (Yeltsin, “1996-97”)

We’ve named the lines after the Soviet (or Russian) leader we believe would have instigated or, at least approved each segment ( . . . assuming, of course, they exist as reported . . . ), and have thoughtfully provided links to online biographical information.

(We want to make clear that our skepticism is in no way intended to denigrate the efforts of those who have investigated this story and posted what they’ve learned online.)

Stalin died in 1953, but the “lead time” necessary for a project of this scale suggests that “Iosif” was started during his lifetime. Mikhail Gorbachev was Soviet leader in 1986, but the scale of “Yuri” suggests the project was started well before then. The scale also suggests substantial cost – and the likelihood that someone’s forceful advocacy was behind the project. Andropov, the KGB head from 1967 to 1982, exerted considerable influence during the last years of the Brezhnev era because of the latter’s failing health. We speculate that Andropov was the “someone” behind this project – assuming it exists as reported.

We’ll continue with the most intriguing items ( ; scroll down to photo and map).

The map and photo, published by the United States Department of Defense in 1991, are taken by many as definitive “proof” for the existence of Metro-2.

As we noted above, we think it likely that something like Metro Dva does exist – to some undetermined extent. But we do not accept the DOD map or photo as “definitive proof” per se.


Well, at this point, we probably don’t have to explain “Reason Number 1.”

But we’re opinionated, so we’re gonna do so, anyway.


At mid-2004, none of the much-touted “weapons of mass destruction” had come to light in Iraq.

Not only that.

As we reported earlier, prior to the March 2003 start of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (aka Gulf War II), an Iraqi defector told lurid tales of an elaborate, multi-level tunnel network beneath Baghdad, extending more than 100 km (60 mi). These, according to the source, were built under orders from “Da Guy Wid Da Mustache” using plans for a civilian subway network (,4395,182204,00.html).

At mid-2004, it seemed clear that the story above was, at best, exaggerated. Existence of underground bunkers beneath key government buildings and other facilities is certain, together road underpasses long enough to be described as “tunnels.” At some point, perhaps prior to “Gulf War 1,” work was evidently started on a Baghdad subway; how much was built remains unclear but the apparent answer is “not much.”

The story told by the Iraqi scientist might have been little more than an urban legend within Iraq – or government dezinformatsiya intended for domestic consumption – to keep the Iraqi populace “shocked and awed” with stories of the power and prowess of “Da Guy Wid Da Mustache.”

An alternative explanation: Iraqi dezinformatsiya, indented for foreign consumption – that is, the U.S. government. This scenario is the one that Your Favorite Transit Pundits consider most likely. The probable intent was to deter a U.S. invasion. If so, then the strategy backfired:

“. . . they've got enormous – miles and miles and miles of underground tunneling. I mean, I don't know how inspectors on the surface of the Earth can know – even know what's going on in the underground facilities that the Iraqis have .” (U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, December 23, 2002, ).

We Opinionated Ones tend to shy away from “conspiracy” theories and other simplistic explanations for complex situations. However, it is possible that Rumsfeld was spreading a little “dezinformatsiya” of his own – whether for domestic consumption (to build U.S. public support for an invasion of Iraq) or not (“Hey, you, Da Guy Wid Da Mustache; better tell it all, now, or we’re gonna tell it . . . our way . . .”)

(OK, OK, but we’ll bet you don’t keep reading this blog because you’ve heard we’re a bunch of humorless blowhards. Just like . . . nah, no need to mention our favorite targets for riposte and ridicule . . . not yet.)

It remains possible that the tunnels, complete with the weapons of mass disappearance (er, destruction) do exist as reported previously, but have not been described in detail to avoid compromising U.S. intelligence sources and methods. Possible, yes, but at this point (mid-2004), we find that hard to take seriously.

Not only that.

Allegations that the U.S. had been manipulated by Iran into disposing of a hostile neighbor, paving the way for an Iraq ruled by Shi’a Muslims, triggered an “urgent investigation,” the British newspaper “The Guardian” reported on May 25, 2004,2763,1224075,00.html.

On the next day, the “New York Times” published a remarkable editorial, admitting that it had been misled about those “weapons of mass d_____” (Intrepid Websurfers are invited to fill in their choice of “’d’ word,” “deception” is one that comes to mind.)

The New York Times editorial said the newspaper had been encouraged to report WMD claims by U.S. officials “convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq” – and admitted that the “Times” did not verify these claims independently,2763,1225150,00.html.

(We did not provide links to the “New York Times” proper because it requires registration for all but the most “recent” stories.)

In sum, U.S. intelligence does not currently (mid-2004) enjoy a sterling reputation for accuracy. Some would say this has been true for longer than the Americans care to think.


Back to “Metro-2” and “Reason 2”

The word “counterintelligence” brings to mind lurid tales of “Spy vs. Spy,” of 007 stalking .0008, safeguards against espionage and so forth. Howeve, “counterintelligence” also refers to “quality control” – not necessarily a strong point of American intelligence.

The need for such “quality control” should be obvious. There is such a thing as dezinformatsiya (“disinformation,”, and there is also such a thing as good dezinformatsiya. Some of that churned out by the old USSR was very good. Most people accept reports that fit their “worldview” more readily than those that do not. Propagandists know that the better the “fit” to the “worldview” of the intended audience, the more effective the propaganda. Therefore, a good analyst is also a perpetual skeptic: “Who benefits if I believe this?”

(Sage advice on how to detect dezinformatsiya: “Remember the following first rule of disinformation analysis: truth is specific, lie is vague. Always look for palpable details in reporting and if the picture is not in focus, there must be reasons for it”

A team of our most opinionated TransitCabal Adjuct Scholars(tm), led by a Cabal member whom we’ll call “N. Shmartskopfskiy,” concluded that the DOD photo was taken from the main building of “Moskovskiy Gostudarstvenniy Universitet imeni M.V. Lomonosova,” aka Moscow State University, named for Mikhail Vassilievich Lomonosov

The circled objects in the distance are identified in the caption as “Shakhty,” “Shafts,” as in “Mine Shafts” (“Pithead Hoists” might be a more descriptive translation). The caption also says these are above the “Command Post” at Ramenki. If this is true of all four shafts, then the “Command Post” is enormous: left-most and right-most shafts are roughly 3 km (2 mi) apart.

(Details about the Ramenki district are here

The existence of underground bunkers in Moscow, built from Stalin’s time, has long been known. The “Ramenki Area Deep-Underground Command Post” might well be as large as the DOD map implies. However . . .

The standard Soviet construction technique for building underground metros was to sink an inclined shaft from the surface down to station level and hollow out space for tracks and platforms. Workers tunneled between stations; shafts were used to remove excavated materials and were eventually equipped with escalators.

Line 1 of the Moscow Metro ( extends through part of the area covered by the photo. Universitet station is some distance out of the photo, to the left. The middle pair of shafts appear to be at, or near, Prospekt Vernodskogo station. The extension from Universitet to Prospekt Vernodskogo and Yugo-Zapadnaya was opened in 1963.

All this is perhaps incidental, but definitely intriguing.

(Puzzling over stuff like this is among the popular diversions featured at Line’s EndTM, the (very) secret, (very) hiddenTM retreat of The Secret Worldwide Transit CabalTM.)


The text on the page which features the DOD map and photo ( makes interesting reading – for Intrepid Websurfers who know Russian.

We Opinionated Ones have this to say about the author: the chap knows how to write, and he’s told a great story. We’re impressed, but we won’t present a verbatim translation on this blog.

It is the author’s prerogative to decide whether, and how, to make this page available in languages other than Russian.

We Opinionated Ones also agree – unanimously (!!!) – that an English “translation” would need to include “supplemental” explanations of names and terms for the benefit of Intrepid Websurfers not familiar with Russian and Soviet history. That could make for a very long post.

For example: With reference to one of the underground military control centers reached by Metro-2, the article says that construction of this “Central Control Center” was ordered as early as 1958.

“The underground city was constructed ‘Stakhanov style:’ by 1961, the first ‘moles’ were already celebrating completion of their new home.”

It helps to know that people who work in underground complexes such as this one are called “krotami” -- “moles.” The article notes that “shakhterami” -- “miners” still use this term. (Perhaps they want to distinguish true underground workers – themselves – from mere paper pushers, relocated underground.)

It also helps to know that “Stakhanov style” is a reference to the 1930s-era “Stakhanovite” movement of “shock workers.” Intrepid Websurfers wanting more information might want to “google” the terms “Stakhanov",16641,1101351216,00.html and “Stakhanovite"; we offer this as an example of the rich vocabulary of historical references used by Russian writers.

(We’re not even sure there’s a good English equivalent to “Working Stakhanov style.”)

(Excerpt from the opening of a short story by Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s greatest writer:

(“po traktu, nynye unichtozhyennomu;” “along a post road which now no longer exists.”)

(. . . we’ll bet that Randal, Tommy, Jonny, Jonny, Pete and Wendell don’t get it, but astute Websurfers certainly do . . .)

(. . . “a post road which now no longer exists,” you see, is a contradiction in terms; a sophisticated “once upon a time” . . .)

(. . . the sort of “literary device” that would not be out of place in to so many items on “The Public Purpose,” “Demographia,” “Preserving the American Dream,” “Peter Gordon’s Blog,” various rants by the likes of Tom Rubin, Jonathan Richmond, and Jon Caldara . . .)

However, for the benefit of Websurfers who don’t read Russian . . .

(“Shame on them for not studying Russian in school!”)

. . . we have presented selected excerpts from below.

The first part of the narrative describes Stalin’s underground bunkers, and the “classified” facilities, including a “secret” station, that were built as part of the initial Moscow Metro project. These have been described elsewhere, so we’ll skip this.

The article then explains that its author first heard of the “Kremlenskiy Evakuatsionniy Metrotonnel” (Kremlin Evacuation Metro tunnel) in 1981 or 1982. In 1992, the weekly newspaper “Argumenty i fakti” (“Arguments and Facts” ) published an account by woman who had worked as a janitor in KGB facilities, together with the United States Department of Defense map.

The article complains of the “unreal quantity of nonsense” churned out subsequently by the “yellow press” (“zheltoy pressy,” as in “yellow journalism”). As a result, states the article, the majority of Muscovites “generally doubt the existence of the system.” The nickname “Metro-2” was applied by the weekly newsmagazine “Ogonyok,” the USSR’s most popular during the “glasnost” era. “Moscow News” and “Komsomolskaya Pravda” also covered the story, as did “TV Tsentr” (the broadcast outlet controlled currently by Moskow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov).

Such coverage disappeared from 1993 on. “Someone,” speculates the article, “apparently exerted very serious pressure.”

It is also possible, in the aftermath of Russia’s political upheaval of 1993, that news media simply lost interest. We note that subsequent coverage of Metro-2 has been published, and is available online – in English. More below.

The article explains that the author assembled information from “many places on the Internet” into his first “Metro 2” map in 1995. He states that that such information was “in the majority of cases” erroneous, and that many errors therefore “sneaked into the diagram.” The current version of his map is dated mid-November 1999.

The article then provides a detailed description of the four lines of Metro Dva.

Again: our skepticism is in no way intended to denigrate the efforts those who have written about Metro-2. However, Your Favorite Transit Pundits are obliged to point out once again that independent verification – other than that published by the U.S. Department of Defense – is lacking. No surprise, perhaps, but we suggest that Intrepid Websurfers avoid getting carried away by “conspiracy theories.”

We’ll continue our coverage of the World’s Ultimate Secret Subway, Moscow’s Metro-2, in our next post.

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