Metros in Ukraine: Kharkov 

Kharkov is the second city with the highest number of inhabitants in Ukraine. It is located in the northeastern part of the country, bordering the Russian frontier.

For this reason, this city, which was founded on 1650, has always been under the influence of the Russian Empire. The city had 1,439,036 inhabitants on the year 2014, which makes it an important city at a national level. Even though this city is located within Ukraine, Kharkov has proven to be a city of great importance, to the point that it became the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic between 1919 and 1934. Afterwards, Kiev became the capital of Ukraine.

With the passing of time and after important events, such as the Independency of Ukraine, Kharkov became a cosmopolitan city, and currently has museums, libraries, theaters, and cultural centers. Additionally, the local economy is focused on the machine industry and the electronics sector, making it the leading Ukrainian city on these two industries. Furthermore, Kharkov is known for hosting important firms and factories of war tanks, nuclear plants, and aircraft. The city´s temperatures tend to be quite low, ranging between 0.9 and -4.6 ºC on the coldest months, and between 14.4 and 21.6 ºC on the warmest months.

The Kharkov Metro is a system that works entirely underground, and comprises the main mean of transportation of this Ukrainian city. Its railroad has a total of 38.1 kilometers long. The system is comprised of three lines, and its trains stop at 30 stations throughout its journey. The system was inaugurated on 1975 with a 10.4 kilometer-long section, and the system has been growing with the passing of time.

The Kharkov Metro uses a unique rolling stock. Currently, the trains that transit the metro´s railroad are the Metrovagonmash trains, where the 81-717/81-714 models are the most commonly used trains among its lines. However, the trains from older models called Ezh3 and Em508T also transit the railway. The newest trains that have been acquired for the Kharkov Metro are from the model number 81-7036/7037, which transit the railway of the Saltivska line, that is, the metro´s second line.


Kharkov metro Kharkov metro

In 2017, 212.85 million people rode on the Kharkov Metro, a number which shows the scope and size of the metro. The system´s operator is the firm Kharkiv Metropoliten, which is managed by the local government.

  • Known as: Metro.
  • Length: 38.1 kilometers.
  • Gauge size of the tracks: 1524 mm.
  • Number of lines: 3.
  • Number of stations: 30.
  • Average speed: 35.7 km/h.
  • Website: www.metro.kharkov.ua
  • Operator: Kharkiv Metropoliten.
  • Daily ridership: 633.150 on the year 2013.
  • Foundation: August 23rd, 1975.

Brief history

The development of different transportation systems below ground level was common in the Soviet Union. After World War II, the Soviet Union became one of the two top most powerful nations, which influenced the construction of structures for transportation.

Kharkov was a city that was growing a lot due to its industrial activity, which resulted in a significant population growth. Consequently, the urban residential areas were expanded. Public transportation began be inefficient, especially on a city with a complex geography such as Kharkov, which is full of irregular and uneven terrain where tall buildings were constructed.

Therefore, a new means of transport was needed, and research showed that a metro would be ideal. A metro would be better than a monorail or a tramway, since neither of those could travel underground.

The first phase of the construction of the Kharkov Metro began to be planned 1968, year on which its design was approved, and its construction began on the month of July. These works were made in a gradual way through the excavation of different tunnels. The inauguration took place on August 23rd, 1975, day in which people celebrated 32 years of the city´s liberation from Nazi occupation.

The original metro system had a 9.8 kilometer-long track and 8 stations, and the only line available was called Sverdlovsk-Zavodskaya. On 1978, five stations were added to the system. And, on 1984, 6.7 kilometers of tracks were added, which increased the metro´s ridership. The Kharkov Metro has kept increasing after the Independence of Ukraine, with expansions done to it on 1995 and on 2004, and the opening of some stations between 2010 and 2016.

Lines and Stations

The Kharkov Metro has three working lines that have been growing a lot. This transportation system was planned to be entirely underground, which is why, out of its 30 stations are located below ground level. Six of those stations are deeply underground, while 24 are at a lower depth. The metro is connected to a line that crosses the city vertically, and two lines that cross it horizontally. The Kharkov Metro lines are:

Line 1: Kholodnohirsko–Zavodska

Line 1 was the first line of the system to be inaugurated, being opened on August 23rd, 1975. Back then, it only operated on a track that was 9.8 kilometers long, in which 8 stations were available. Throughout time, the line grew, and it reached its current size after being expanded in 1978.

The line is currently called Kholodnohirsko–Zavodska, and its terminal stations are Kholodna Hora station and Industrialna station. At Maidan Konstytutsii station, you can transfer to line 2 while, at Sportyvna station, you can board line 3. Line 1 is red.

Line 2: Saltivska

Recognizable for its green color, line 2 was the second line to be inaugurated on the Kharkov Metro, opeining on 1984. During its beginnings, it only had five stations and a 6.7 kilometer-long track. It was built as an expansion to give transportation towards the new neighborhood of Saltivska. On 1986, the Saltivska line got its only expansion, which left the line with 8 stations and a 10.2 kilometer-long track. This makes it the smallest line of the Kharkov Metro.

Its journey goes between Istorychnyi Muzei station, where you can make a transfer with line 1, and Heroiv Pratsi station. To connect to line 3, you need to get off at Universytet station. On the system´s map, line 2 is represented as dark blue.

The metro Pushkinskaya

Line 3: Oleksiivska

Inaugurated on 1995, this is the most recent line of the system, and the only one to be opened after the Independence of Ukraine from the Soviet Union. During its beginnings, this line, also known as Oleksiivska, was comprised of five stations and had a railroad of 5.2 kilometers in length. But, in 2004, two new stations were added to it. Another expansion for line 3 occurred recently with the opening of a station on 2010, and of another on 2016. With this expansion, the line has now a total of 8 stations and 11.1 kilometers of railroad length, making it the second longest line of the metro. The terminal stations are Peremoha and Metrobudivnykiv. If you wish to make a transfer between this lien and line 1, the station that you´ll need to use will be Metrobudivnykiv. But, if you wish to make a transfer with line 2, the user will need to disembark at Derzhprom. The Oleksiivska is green.

Connections with other systems

Kharkov is a city that, within the current Ukrainian situation, it is known for having a vast internal and external transportation system, especially in regards of railway services. Regarding the urban transportation system, the Kharkov Metro has been since the past century the central and most important urban transportation system, serving as a blueprint for other means of transportation.

The metro is complemented by different systems, such as the tramway, which is the oldest transportation system of the city, which was founded on 1882. The tramway was initially driven by animals, until 1906, when it became a system powered by electricity. Currently, there are 13 tramway lines transiting on Kharkov, covering a total distance of 217.6 kilometers. This makes it the biggest system in the city of Kharkov, and it is connected to the metro in many places.

Additionally, the city´s trolleybuses are available. This system is also quite old, being inaugurated on 1939. Its network is divided in four partially separated sections, and it has a total of 23 routes. The total length of the system´s tracks is of 259.9 kilometers. There are different connections with the metro, such as the one available at Palats Sportu station (lines 1 and 25,) Moskovskyi Prospekt station (lines 20 and 31), Akademika Barabashova station (line 24) and Armiiska station (line 36).

Another big transportation system in Kharkov is the bus service. Being available on the city since the year 1925, the buses are not controlled by a single entity, but by many firms that manage them. They offer many services, such as the express service, taxi line service, and the social service.

It is estimated that approximately a thousand buses transit Kharkov, in which 150 of them are minibuses, while other 150 are big buses. The city also has a small railway on the south and an aerial lift, which covers the journey between Sumskaya Street and the Pavlovo Field district. Kharkov has a train station that was rebuilt on 1989, which has lines managed by Ukrainian Railways, and which reach distant destinations such as Astana and Moscow.

Connection to the airport

The second most important city in Ukraine has its own airport. The Kharkov International Airport is located 12 kilometers to the southeast of the city, and it is the biggest airport of the eastern portion of this European country. The airport was built during Stalinism, but was expanded recently with the inauguration of a new gate on 2010 for the 2012 UEFA European Championship. After Donbas War, this airport received a blockade from the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States, which was lifted on 2018 after confirming that the airport was far away from the battlefield.

The Kharkov Metro does not have a direct connection to the airport. However, there are different ways to access it. Line 5 of the trolleybus connects the airport with Prospekt Haharina station from line 1. The rest of the connections available are with the bus lines: line 115 also connects the airport with Prospekt Haharina station; line 119 connects to Prospekt Haharina station, just like the Maidan Konstytutsii line (line 1), Derzhprom line (line 3) and Botanichnyi Sad line (line 3). Bus lines 152 and 255 connect the airport with Akademika Barabashova station from line 2.

Schedule and train frequency

The Kharkov Metro´s schedule varies according to the season and the line. The system offers service between 5:30 in the morning and midnight. Generally speaking, the interval of the train frequency during peak hours oscillates between two and three minutes, but during off-peak hours, the time period increases between four and six minutes. At night, the train frequency tends to change. Around 8 at night, the train frequency is of 10 minutes. Meanwhile, between 10 pm and midnight, the frequency tends to be between 13 and 18 minutes.

As it was previously mentioned, the Kharkov Metro´s business hours change depending on the season. During the summer, there are 24 trains available per hours on lines 1 and 2. The train frequency with the smallest waiting time occurs between 7:00 and 9:00 in the morning, in which each train arrives between a minute and 30 seconds, and two minutes and 20 seconds. During winter times, the train frequency changes to 26 trains per hour, also on lines 1 and 2. The smallest interval during winter ranges between one minute and 30 seconds, and three minutes. But, this interval changes during peak hours, which occur between 7:00 and 10:30 in the morning. During the fall, the train frequency is the same as in the winter, with the only difference that the smallest interval is of two minutes.

For line 3, the average train frequency tends to remain invariable all year-long, which is of 12 trains per hour. Nevertheless, all of the train frequencies for the Kharkov Metro´s lines are changed drastically, since they range between 15 and 20 minutes during the last business hour, which is between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Fares, tickets, and cards

Payments for the Kharkov Metro are done through a simplified structure. For a lot of years, that is, between its foundation and 2015, the metro had a payment system that used plastic tokens, which was the traditional way in the Soviet Union. This system was replaced by a ticket-based system, which allows a single ride, and can be used anywhere on the system regardless of the journey´s distance. The users also have the possibility of getting a reloadable contactless card.

Currently, the cost of a standard ticket is of 5 hryvnias (0.18 USD), a price that was established on March 29th, 2018. This price has been significantly increasing during the past years, since it cost two hryvnias on 2011, and the price increased to 3 hryvnias on 2013. The price increase of 2018 has been the steepest one until now, and has been caused in great part by the devaluation of the Ukrainian currency.

Sportivna-Kharkov

Rules of the system

The transportation systems in the world have different rules which have the purpose of maintaining order and making the metro function properly. The Kharkov Metro is no exception. The firm Kharkiv Metropoliten has established a series of rules that the users are obligated to comply. Some of them are:

  • All the passengers need to have a valid ticket to enter the system. The user will be responsible of obtaining and validating them.
  • In case that the user is entitled to enter the system with a preferential ticket, they will have to carry with them the documents that prove that they are fit to receive said ticket.
  • The user should pay for an additional ticket for each additional baggage with a width, length, and height between 120 cm and 200 cm. They should also pay for roll-shaped objects with dimensions between 10x100 cm and 15x150 cm. Long objects should measure between 150 cm and 220 cm of length. Regular bags, rolling backpacks, and suitcases should measure between 120 cm and 200 cm. Finally, bikes should measure between 120 and 200 cm- Any object that exceeds these measurements will not be able to be transported on the system.
  • Other kinds of objects, such as skis, sleighs, bicycles, roller skates, seedlings, gardening tools, firearms, fishing rods, among others, should be transported with proper packaging to avoid the contact between them and the rest of the users.
  • Animals will only be able to travel on the Kharkov Metro in special cages or containers that have dimensions of up to 120 cm.
  • It is prohibited to enter the station with ice cream and any other kind of food or beverage.

Future expansions

During these past few years, small upgrades have been done to the Kharkov Metro, after a lot of years where no changes had been done to the metro. There are two main projects for the metro, where the focus is to expand it and the construction of line 3. This line needs to be expanded from Metrobudivnykiv to Odeska through three stations, whose inauguration is planned for 2022. Afterwards, two more stations will be added to this extension, so that the metro will be able to reach the airport, and, that way, it will be connect it to the entire structure of the system.

There is also an expansion planned for line 1 in both directions. From Kholodna Hora, the line could grow through the addition of two stations to reach Nova Bavariia. Meanwhile, from Industrialna, it is predicted that a three station expansion will be done to reach Pivdenna. This kind of future plans will also be done for line 2, since three stations could be created from Istorychnyi Muzei to reach Novozhanovo. Meanwhile, a new branch may be born from Akademika Barabashova, which would go to Skhidna Saltivka.

Tips

It is important that, in case that you travel on the Kharkov Metro as a visitor, you should keep in mind different tips that will make your journey on the system a more pleasurable and comfortable experience. Some of the tips to travel on the system are:

  • After the country got separated from Russia, all of its billboards got changed from Russian to Ukrainian. It is recommended that you learn some basic words and be able to read a bit of Cyrillic writing in case that you don´t know any.
  • The user is responsible of having a valid ticket. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the metro´s tickets do not work for the rest of the city´s public transportation.
  • The metro is the fastest transportation system in the city. However, it could also be a bit noisy, especially if you board older trains. Therefore, it is recommended that you take measures to protect yourself from the noise.
  • If you are going to bring any luggage, it is important that you keep in mind its dimensions, since you will have to make an additional payment in some cases.

Fun facts

  • This system was the fifth to be inaugurated on the Soviet Union, and the second one in Ukraine.
  • The Kharkov Metro has a museum where you can learn about its history, construction and composition. Therefore, this is a place of interest for tourists.
  • This metro was the first system of the Community of Independent States that introduced a speed control system on the escalators.
  • The system of buying tokens at a station has been replaced completely by a contactless card system.
  • The metro has been awarded with different prizes, such as the International Golden Prize on the transportation sector on the year 2007.
  • On 2009, the metro changed from being managed by the federal government to being managed by the local government.
  • The stations´ aesthetics keep the Soviet style of the metros. Each station has unique designs, since each metro has different patterns for their tiles, colors, and style.
  • A lot of the station´s names have changed to remove any names or references related to the Soviet period.

Places to sightsee from the Kharkov Metro

Being an industrial and working-class city inside the Soviet Union, and also belonging to Ukraine but located close to Russia, Kharkov may not seem to be a touristically attractive destination. However, things have changed drastically. With the Independence of Ukraine and the modernization of Kharkov´s geographic space, this city has become a friendly space for visitors that enjoy being in a peaceful city with a daily routine, and that decide to visit its most outstanding places. Some of the places that you can get to know by using the Kharkov Metro are:

  • Cathedral of Annunciation: This is one of the most important religious centers of the city, being the biggest orthodox church of Kharkov. It has a Byzantine style, and its construction was done between 1899 and 1901. The church´s colors and cupolas make it a visually attractive place to visit. Two metro stations are located in its vicinity. If you use Maidan Konstytutsii´s station, you will have to walk towards the west. However, if you decide to use Pivdennyi Vokzal´s station, you will have to walk towards the east. Both stations belong to line 1.
  • Kharkov´s Zoo: a lot of tourists have felt attracted towards this old zoo, which was recently condemned and reopened with a modern structure that is appropriate for a European zoo. This zoo has been considered one of the oldest in the country. And, for that reason, the best way to get to know it is by enjoying watching the animals in their habitat, as well as knowing a bit of its history. To reach it, you will have to disembark at Universytet station from line 2, and walking towards your left.
  • Kharkov´s Art Museum: It is one of the most important museums in Kharkov and Ukraine. Founded on 1905, it is a museum that focuses on fine art, and it belongs to the category of State Museum. The place has 25 rooms with Russian and Ukrainian exhibits from the Revolution period, as well as works from Eastern Europe in general between the 16th and 20th century. It is possible to reach this important museum through the metro by only disembarking at Arkhitektora Beketova station from line 3, and walking down a block.

Metro map of Kharkov

Metro map of Kharkov Full resolution
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Kharkov metro map

  • Passengers/Day 1000000
  • Fares:
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • Operator: City of Kharkiv
  • 2 UAH
  • Kharkov Metro Official Website

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