Rubber stamping Russian restaurant menus

As I travelled across Russia, there was peculiar on the menu at every restaurant I ate at – each page had a rubber stamp on it.

ресторан sign on the roof

Featuring what seemed to be the name of the restaurant, and a signature.

Official looking stamp on a Russian restaurant menu

So why stamp each page?

Another Russian restaurant menu with a stamp on every page

The only reason I could think of was to prevent fraud, but I could only find one reference to restaurant menu seals online, in an article on Russian Railways dining cars.

Each dining car has an approved menu with prices and list of dishes, but I have not seen a single dining car which works on this way – the directors print their own menu, forge the seal on it and work on it, of course the prices are 30- 50% higher from this menu.

So who is responsible for approving the restaurant menus?

Posted in Everyday life | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Switching from right to left on the Wiener Straßenbahn

Trams on the Wiener Straßenbahn run on the right hand side just like every other road vehicle in Austria, but there is one exception – the elevated tracks of line 26.

E1 tram 4830 and trailer heads up Kaiserstraße at Westbahnstraße

Opened in 2013, the 4.7 kilometre long extension of tram route 26 links the U1 station at Kagraner Platz with U2 station at Hausfeldstrasse, running on a viaduct between Laaer Ostbahn and the Wiener Nordrand Schnellstraße.

With an elevated island tram stop at the Gewerbepark Stadlau industrial park.

Vienna uses unidirectional trams, which have doors on one side only.

ULF-B tram 635 passes a older E class tram and C class trailer combo at Westbahnhof

Which requires trams to run through the island platform on the left hand side.

Trams switching from right to left at the Süßenbrunner Str/Oberfeldgasse stop.

And then back again at the Forstnergasse stop.


Here is the view from route 26 tram – 3:35 to 7:10 covers the section of left-hand running.

Posted in Trams | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gothenburg tram swapping sides from left to right

In the Swedish city of Gothenburg the tram network has a curious section of track – a diamond crossing that swaps the left and right tracks around.

Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right on 3 September 1967, the day being Dagen H or “Högertrafikomläggningen” (“The right-hand traffic diversion”).

Tram operator Göteborgs Spårvägar started planning for the change from 1964, with 27 trams, 24 trailers and a bus converted for right-hand traffic, and 53 new motor-buses for right-hand traffic purchased. In 1965, 30 new right-hand trams were added.

Another planned project of the 1960s was the conversion of the tramways to an underground rapid transit system, so new tram extensions were built to ‘premetro‘ standards.

Line 8 from Frölunda to Angered is one example, with tramway passing through city streets using traditional right-hand running.

But to save on construction costs in the underground section, it was decided to build an island platform at Hammarkullen, which required the single-directional trams to use left-hand running through the tunnels.

Which required trams to switch from left- to right-hand running partway along the route – at the Hjällbo stop.

The crossover is at grade, so only one tram can occupy it at a time.

Further reading

Posted in Trams | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lookalike Melbourne trams in Lisboa

I recently found a familiar looking trams in an unexpected location, when reading about about a new tram order for the Portuguese capital of Lisboa.

Railway Gazette has the back story:

CAF wins Lisboa tram tender
19 December 2019

Portugal: CAF has won a competition to supply 15 trams to Lisboa bus and tram operator Carris. CAF’s proposal was selected ahead of a bid from Stadler, whose offer was around €1·5m more.

The €45m procurement was launched in April 2018 and includes €5m for maintenance activity. The tender specifications stipulated that the trams needed to be ‘bigger and have more capacity’ then the current Carris fleet.

The first of the 15 vehicles is expected to enter service in 2021 with the remaining cars arriving over the course of 2022-23. The tram procurement is the first to be undertaken by Carris since 1995, when it ordered 10 articulated LRVs from Siemens.

This is that comes to mind when I think of a Lisboa tram.

But the tram in the mockup looks just like those that run in my home city of Melbourne, Australia.

E.6018 on a shakedown run heads west along La Trobe Street

The tram in question being a Melbourne E-class – a three-section, four-bogie articulated tram built by Bombardier’s Dandenong factory, based on the Flexity Swift design.

Given Bombardier didn’t appear to tender for the contract in Lisboa, how did a Melbourne tram end up in as a mockup?

I’m guessing that the tram operator or local government did the mockups themselves, without the involvement of a tram manufacturer, and their designer just picked whatever modern looking tram they liked as the base.


Believe it or now, but two Portuguese trams have visited Melbourne before – a Bombardier Eurotram from the Porto Metro in 2003, and the Siemens Combino Plus from Metro Transportes Sul do Tejo in 2007. Both were sent over by the manufactures, on promotional tours to win future tram orders.

Posted in Trams | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bizzare narrow platforms on the Bucharest Metro

The Bucharest Metro is a rail network with an interesting history, with the bizarrely narrow platforms at Piața Romană station being one example.

The bulk of the platform being less than a metre wide.

With passengers having to wait in the cross passages that lead to it.

The reason for the bizarre configuration – the station was built in secret against the wishes of Elena Ceaușescu, wife of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu – as Romanian magazine Historia explains.

The peril of narrow and curved platforms has made Piața Romană unique among the subway stations in Bucharest. It’s strange appearance we owe to Elena Ceausescu, who removed it from the map of the subway designers in 1985, for a bizarre reason.

“There are too many stations, stop them!” – this was the order of Elena Ceaușescu when she saw the project for the Berceni – Pipera subway section 2, one of the three designers of the station, Sorin Călinescu, told us. He argues, however, that this subway stop was built in secret, in violation of the comrade’s order, which was unwavering in her decision.

The problem raised by Elena Ceausescu was that both the working class and the youth “started to get fat” and needed to walk more, recall those who worked on the construction of the subway.

“We received an order from the Communist Party to exclude at least one station from the scheme, which was almost impossible because we were few and they gave us plans. We decided to eliminate, only on paper, the most important station, so that afterwards we would be obliged to replace it.” explained Călinescu, the current head of the consulting department Metroul SA.

Călinescu tells that when the works began on the Berceni-Pipera section, in 1986, the people who officially worked on the section of the University Square – Victoriei Square prepared the land in the area around Piața Romană. In a record time of three months, the builders made some tunnels behind the thick walls we see today, with the thought of being transformed into platforms later.

The line M2 tracks through Piața Romană station opened on 24 October 1987, as part of the 8.72 km long five station extension from Piata Unirii 2 – Pipera.

Passengers all onboard, the hoards are trying to leave the platform

Initially trains passed through the incomplete station without stopping, but following pressure from the Bucharest residents the go ahead was given to complete the station. The remainder of the station was excavated, and the walls to the tunnel broken through, with Piața Romană station opened a year later on 28 November 1988.

Further reading

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Moscow Metro stations inside train depots

Another entry in the list of oddball Moscow Metro stations is Pervomayskaya (Первомайская) and Kaluzhskaya (Калужская) – both were constructed inside a train depot!

Pervomayskaya station

The story starts in 1950 when the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line was extended 1.5 kilometres to a new ground level depot at Izmailovo on the eastern edge of Moscow. The Izmaylovo District next to the depot was unserved by the metro, so the decision was made to convert roads 21-23 of the depot shed into a station, with an island platform built over the centre track.

On completion in 1954 Pervomayskaya was the first Moscow Metro station to be located at ground level, and the only one to have a wooden roof. Architect Nikolai Ivanovich Demchinsky designed the station with marble walls and platform, whitewashed ceiling, and lobby building facing the street.

Photo via PastVu

Pervomayskaya station remained in service until 1961 when the line was extended further east to a ‘new’ Pervomayskaya station, with the old station replaced by Izmaylovskaya station a short distance to the south.

Today the station still exists, the platform having been demolished but the tiled walls and decorative reliefs intact.

The station vestibule also remains, hidden beside inside the depot yard.

Kaluzhskaya station

In 1962 Kaluzhskaya Depot opened at the southern end of the Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya line.

Soon after it was decided to extend passenger services a short distance inside the depot, so a temporary station was constructed inside the depot shed, opening to passengers in 1964.

Photo via

With public access from the tail end of the depot shed.

Following the extension of the line further south to Belyayevo (Беля́ево) in 1974 the temporary station inside the depot was closed, replaced by a new underground station a short distance to the west, also called Kaluzhskaya.

Today the station platform and tracks remain in place, with the lobby used as a staff lounge, but the street entrance is hidden by a neighbouring office building.

Sources – Pervomayskaya station

Sources – Kaluzhskaya station

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russian language railfan magazines

If you only speak English then the language barrier gets in the way of exploring the wide world of railways – railfans usually stick to their own language when discussing their hobby! The railfans of Russia are no different, with at least two Russian language railway enthusiast and modelling magazines currently being published.

The first is «Железнодорожное Дело» (“Railway Business”) which has been published since 1991:

The Anthology for Railway Fans and Railway Modelists

The other is «Локотранс» (“Lokotrans”) founded in 1993:

The work of the almanac is carried out in the field of popularization and preservation of the history of railway transport, the provision of information to support the activities of historians, collectors, modellers and manufacturers of large-scale copy models, which are an important component of this movement; assistance in the conduct and development of amateur retro-rail tourism; Restorations of monuments of history of technology, the establishment and development of partnerships with similar organizations and the media.

I stumbled upon both magazines in a Moscow model railway shop, and picked up a few back issues to flick through the photos, and get utterly confused given I can’t read the language!

And a tram footnote

The publishers of «Железнодорожное Дело» once published a tram magazine called «Бугель» (“Bow Collector”) but it no longer seems to be in print.

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Suvorovskaya – another underground station retrofitting adventure

I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole leading to underground stations built on operating railways, and I’ve found another one – Suvorovskaya (Суворовская) station on the Moscow Metro’s Koltsevaya Line – better known as the Circle Line.

Some history

The story starts in the 1950s when work started on the Koltsevaya Line that would eventually encircle central Moscow, with interchange stations along the way providing passengers a shorter journey between different sides of the city. The decision was made to safeguard the development of a future station beneath Suvorov Square, located between Novoslobodskaya and Prospekt Mira stations, so the tunnels were constructed straight and level, with enough space between them for a central hall and side platforms.

However a use for the future station didn’t emerge until until the 1980s, when planning for the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya line (Line 10) commenced. Work started on an interchange station between the two lines, but the 1990s economic slowdown intervened, and it wasn’t until 2010 that the two lines finally crossed paths with the completion of Dostoevskaya (Достоевская) station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line – but without a matching station on the Koltsevaya Line.

Work on Suvorovskaya station started via two underground shafts in 2011, but was halted 2013 due to difficult ground conditions and high cost, and formally abandoned in 2017. However in 2019 the project was restarted, with a 2023 completion date given.

And building it

During the 1990s five different construction methods were proposed to complete the new station at Suvorovskaya – all of which involved opening out the running tunnels like Tverskaya station elsewhere on the Moscow Metro.

But by the time that the project was restarted in 2011, plans had changed – a pair of 700 metre long bypass tunnels would be constructed around the station site, allowing trains to keep running – similar but not the same as the retrofitting of Teatralna station to the Kiev Metro.

And now the 2019 planners have a third option – close each tunnel of the Koltsevaya Line in turn, with passengers diverted to the recently completed Moscow Central Circle, which also links metro lines outside central Mowcow.


More photos and diagrams

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Building an underground station while trains pass by

This is the story of Tverskaya station on the Moscow Metro – retrofitted to the existing Zamoskvoretskaya line during the 1970s, while trains continued to pass through the neighbouring tunnels.

Early history

Originally called Gorkovskaya, Tverskaya station featured in the initial 1932 plans for the Moscow Metro, located between Teatralnaya (Театральная) and Mayakovskaya (Маяковская) stations on the the Gorkovsko–Zamoskvoretskaya line (Line 2), but was dropped in 1935 to save money and speed up construction. Completion of the station was included in 1957 “fifth stage” plan, but no real progress was made.

In the 1970s interest in completing the station re-emerged, when the the extension of the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line (Line 7) to Pushkinskaya Square was floated. To provide a transfer from it to the Gorky-Zamoskvoretskaya line, and the proposed Serpukhovsko–Timiryazevskaya line (Line 9), it was necessary to build a station on the existing Mayakovskaya – Teatralnaya line, resulting in a three station complex.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

The first stage of the project to be completed was Pushkinskaya station on Line 7, opened to passengers in 1975. The initial plans for Tverskaya station required the construction through a new surface shaft, with trains bypassing the construction site via temporary tunnels.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Allowing the construction of a conventional deep pylon station.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

However dense development at ground level prevented the creation of a new shaft, and adverse geological conditions made the construction of bypass tunnels difficult . As a result, it was decided to expand the existing Zamoskvoretskaya line tunnels to include a platform.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Expanding the existing 3.00 metre radius tunnels to 4.75 metre radius.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

With construction access provided to Tverskaya (bottom) by the existing shaft at Pushkinskaya station (top).

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Widening a tunnel while trains are still running

We start with two parallel tunnels.

First the middle station tunnel was constructed, which will later become the central hall of the station.

Adits were excavated beneath the arches of the side station tunnels.

They are then filled in with concrete.

The side tunnels are then excavated down to the heel of the arches.

The new tunnels are then tied back to the original running tunnels.

Connections between the track and station tunnels are then excavated, and platforms installed.

Allowing the original tunnel linings to be removed, and completion of the platforms.

And finally, the finishing touches.

With Tverskaya station opening on July 20, 1979.

Digging around existing tunnels, then pulling it down

Two special pieces of equipment were needed to complete the Tverskaya station project – a travelling scaffold that would pass between the new and old tunnel linings.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

To enable excavation work to be completed in the confined space.

And a rail mounted travelling crane.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Which could pass through the new station.

And disassemble the redundant tunnel linings once the wider tunnels were complete.


Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Retrofitting an underground station to the Kiev Metro

How does one go about retrofitting a station to an existing underground railway? It was was problem that Ukrainian engineers solved in the 1970s, when Teatralna (Театральна) was added to the Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska Line of the Kiev Metro system.

Some history

The first section of the Sviatoshynsko–Brovarska line opened in 1960, running between Vokzalna and Dnipro stations. Early plans included a station serving the National Opera, but it was dropped, leaving a gap of more than 1.5 kilometres between Universytet and Khreshchatyk stations.

Photo via

In the years that followed the Kiev Metro was further expanded, and by the 1970s a third line was being planned – the Syretsko-Pecherska line.

An interchange between the new and old lines was required, but since the new route didn’t pass through any existing stations, the decision was made to retrofit a new station to the existing Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska line – to be named Teatralna.

Work started on 23 February 1983 with a projected completion date in 1986, but was delayed due to the economic state of the Soviet Union.

Building it

To avoid disrupting metro services, construction of the new interchange station was broken up into three stages:

Diagram via

  1. Just two single track tunnels.
  2. Teatralna station and tunnels built south of the existing tunnels.
  3. Old tunnels blocked up and new tunnels connected, Teatralna station opened.
  4. Zoloti Vorota station opened on new Syretsko-Pecherska Line.

The changeover between old and new tunnel was completed between April 1 to October 1 1987, with the metro line between Universytet and Khreshchatyk stations closed to passengers. At each tie-in point, 580 meters of the existing tunnel was filled in, allowing the replacement tunnel to be excavated on the new alignment, without risk of ground subsidence or tunnel collapse.

Photo via

While the work was being completed, trains ran in two sections: Lisova to Khreshchatyk and from Sviatoshyn to Vokzalna, along with a shuttle train running between Vokzalna to Universytet via a single track. The disrupted metro line normally carried 400,000 people per day, so four new bus and three new trolleybus routes were opened bridging the closed section; five bus and two tram routes received additional rolling stock; and four trolleybus routes were temporarily rerouted.

The job was originally planned to take 700 people nine months, but with additional staff working around the clock, the changeover was completed in six months. Metro services on the line resumed on October 1, and the new station at Teatralna opened a month later on November 6 – the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Great October Revolution.

Once the new tunnels were in use, part of the old tunnels needed to be dismantled to make room for the station vault at Zoloti Vorota station on the Syretsko-Pecherska line. This station was located 90 degrees to the existing line with the upper level of the station vault passing through the disused tunnels, so a short section was filled with concrete, leaving just a narrow walkway through them.

Diagram via

Work could then continue on Zoloti Vorota station and the Syretsko-Pecherska line in the normal way, with the line opening on December 31, 1989.


The track and rail has since been removed from the redundant section of tunnel, but they are still maintained, forming part of the ventilation system for the metro system.

Photo via

But in 2014 Kiev urban explorer Олег Тоцкий suggested turning the tunnels into a metro museum.

How many of you have been to the Kiev metro museum? And how many of those who were not in it know where it is and how to get into it? Unfortunately, visiting the current museum of the Kiev metro is not so simple. Due to a number of organizational issues, this can be done only on weekdays and only by appointment. But there is something to see and listen to in the museum. Once upon a time there were ideas in the air about moving the museum to the building of the former depot near the Dnipro metro station, but they still remained unrealized, and the depot building was already gone.

But this is not about that at all. In Kiev, there is a place that asks for a metro museum. Why is there a museum: the place itself is very unusual and could become one of the most interesting tourist points in Kiev. Some of the readers have probably already guessed that the place in question is the old tunnels of the Universytet-Khreshchatyk section, which were later replaced by the Teatralna station.

These tunnels were built back in the 50s and were part of the very first section of the Kiev metro. If you put the tunnels in order and organize a civilized entrance in them, they can become a very cool tourist feature of Kiev. Well, the idea of ​​a metro museum somehow asks itself for this place.

Here you can place a unique and interesting exhibition dedicated to the Kiev metro; virtually the same project”Metro, which is not” , but created on a whole new level. The exposition can be significantly expanded compared to the current museum, in which space is now extremely limited. You can install mock-ups and samples of various metro equipment that is not available to passengers in everyday life.

The practical implementation of this idea has only one uncertain point: how to organize a safe and convenient entrance to the tunnels for visitors. Now access to the waste tunnels is possible from five points. Three of them are operating tunnels along which trains run, one more is the office premises of the Golden Gate station, and the fifth point is wentshacht No. 5. That is, there are very few options and it is possible that you will have to build a separate entrance. And this is a significant investment.

The idea was picked up by local media, including DreamKyiv and Segodnya, but unfortunately the idea never led to anything.


On Wikipedia:

Photo essays by Олег Тоцкий:

And a piece at the Metroworld website.

Posted in Trains | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments