"My love for metro research developed in 1995, the very moment metro was launched in Dnipro city. I have been interested in the metro in general, as well as in the railroad, since my childhood. At first, I wondered about the way it was built, how it was operated and how it would have been developed further. When the internet appeared in Ukrainian households, and the forum about the Kyiv metro was created, - but especially after I moved from Dnipro to Kyiv - I began to research the history of Kyiv metro: I wanted to dig information deeper and explore its details. After a while, I collected a lot of material and started a blog where I could share the information I found. As for today, I use all this knowledge during my tours. This year I published my first book called "Seven Stories of Kyiv Metro."
It would probably be more accurate to call me a researcher of Kyiv metro history. But what makes it unique?
For starters, our metro is distinguished by various architecture: from neoclassical Stalinist architecture, followed by functionalism to Soviet modernism and postmodernism.
Another feature is a large number of intermediate concourses with two marches of escalators, which indicates the depth of Kyiv metro was embedded.
I don't have a favorite [metro] line — they are very different and challenging to compare, too. If we talk about the brand of the metro in the capital, about its image, I go with public cliches and stereotypes and favor the first starting section of the red line: "Vokzalna," "Universytet," "Khreshchatyk," "Arsenalna" and "Dnipro" stations. These were launched in 1960, as well as the station of "Zoloti Vorota." Actually, my top 2 stations that I would outline in terms of architecture are "Zoloti Vorota" with its unique mosaics and "Lybidska" with its bold engineering solutions. During the construction of "Lybidska," struts were opened inside and came out to be elegant rings that support the vaults of the station. In 2011, "Lybidska" received its status as a cultural heritage object.
The appearance of the "Zoloti Vorota" station was changed six months before its opening. Any architectural project, especially this big of a scale, had to be pre-approved a very long time ahead. However, the idea of changing this project happened to be in the right place at the right time. Thanks to the participation of the Kyiv head architect Mykola Zharikov, who did not like the previously approved image of the station because it did not reveal the historical significance of the place, the looks of the station were changed in 1989. Now its vaults are complimented by a decorative bricklayer and decorated with complex mosaic ornaments as well as images of rulers of Kyiv Rus and churches of Kyiv.
There are 52 currently operating stations in Kyiv. There are also two ghost stations, "Lvivska Brama" and "Telychka," and two more stations are being constructed in the direction of Vynohradar, are "Mostytska" and "Pravda Avenue."
The launch of the fourth line to the Troieshchyna area was planned - rails were laid as a metro part at Podilskyi bridge crossing, but the construction never went on. When will the metro line in Troieshchyna appear? Unfortunately, that's a mystery. In addition to the desperate need for the metro by homeowners in Troieshchyna, the fourth line would solve traffic jam problems and people jam problems at existing interconnection stations. Moreover, the southern part of the city — Solomianka, is completely ignored for some reason, but it also needs another transport corridor.
My book has a paragraph called "Metro that doesn't exist." It is about projects never implemented and the decommunization of the stations. "Teatralna" station suffered the most from decommunization and lost its appearance completely. Some elements may have been hastily dismantled and now need to be re-evaluated. For example, there is "Andel" station in Prague, formerly known as "Moscow," where used to be a lot of propaganda images. During the period of independence, they were dismantled, and then almost all of them were put back on. The idea was for passengers to observe the original historical appearance of the station and remember this period of history, although it was a negative one. Should the looks of "Teatralna" also be restored to its origin? Now that's a difficult question. As an option, a project created in the 80s can be implemented. It would be a comeback to the historical appearance of the station, which was conceived before it became Lenin's propaganda.
If you ask for my opinion, decommunization should start at our official's offices and their way of thinking. On the one hand, I vote for authenticity, and on the other hand, we live in a changing society, not in some vacuumed space.
My love for the metro is eternal. It is a long-term hobby and a favorite environment to live in. It's a city inside the city, a special part of the transport system, which is always given much attention. It is a transport aorta of Kyiv, which pumps more than 1,5 million passengers a day. And each station is a unique work of art, not just another stop."
Oleh Totskyi, researcher of Kyiv metro history