(Image: metro.ru; map supposedly showing the rumoured Metro-2 in Moscow)
Rumour has it that there’s a top secret underground railway hidden under the streets of Moscow. Dubbed Metro-2, the clandestine facility is said to lurk up to 200 meters below the surface and consist of four lines that connect the Kremlin, the Federal Security Service, Terminal 2 at Vnukovo International Airport (referred to by some web pages as Vnukovo-2), and an entire underground town in the district of Ramenki.
The four branches of the mysterious Metro-2 are said to be longer than the city’s mainstream rapid transit system. The shadowy subterranean railway supposedly dates back to the time of Joseph Stalin and was given the code name D-6 by the KGB.
(Image: Anakin; a service tunnel rumoured to be part of Metro-2)
The idea of a hidden underground metro system first came to the public attention in 1992, with the publication of a novel set in a subterranean Moscow bunker. The novel’s author, Vladimir Gonik, said the idea was inspired by a real world location. Gonik claimed to have learned of Metro-2 after spending 20 years piecing together information about top secret bunkers connected by railways, which he supposedly gathered while working at the polyclinic of the Ministry of Defence.
Metro-2, the author claimed, had been developed strictly for use by leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and their families, as well as the Politburo.
Unconfirmed tunnels and secret passages beneath busy urban centres are a popular urban legend, and it’s hard not to dismiss Gonik’s claims as a publicity stunt to sell more copies of his book. But the US Department of Defense also made reference to Moscow’s secret underground railways in a 1991 report, perhaps lending some credence to the claims.
The rumour was further substantiated in 2004 by Vladimir Shevchenko, a former adviser to presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin, who reportedly claimed a single track line existed from the Kremlin to Stalin’s dacha in Volynskoye. It was, however, abandoned. He also mentioned a pneumatic mail tube between Moscow’s Old Square and the Kremlin. Could this be the mundane inspiration behind the modern legend?
(Image: Anakin; alleged connecting tunnel between Metro-1 and Metro-2)
Other government officials have referenced not only the mysterious lines themselves, but a recruitment drive to staff the top secret Metro-2 system. KGB defectors have purportedly spoken of an entire network of railways and other infrastructure deep beneath Moscow. But the extent to which these facilities exist remains a mystery – and the KGB isn’t about to offer a guided tour.
Claims seem to vary wildly from a vast “underground city” of the most clandestine kind to a subterranean nuclear bunker complex, where high ranking Soviet government officials would have retreated to had the Cold War ever warmed up. Similar secret command bunkers around the world (including Barnton Quarry in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Canada’s Diefenbunkers) would seem to make this option more plausible.
But what of the highly classified alternative subway system, Metro-2? Compelling as the story may be, there’s no reliable evidence that such a facility exists. But if it does, as Vladimir Shevchenko has claimed, it’s more likely to be a disused railway tunnel carrying decaying underground utilities, badly in need of repair, than a top secret subterranean subway network winding its way from the Kremlin to all corners of Moscow.