What happens if you combine a turntable with a train lift?

Turntables are a common sight on railways, allowing rolling stock to be turned around. But the Kiev Metro had a unique piece of engineering at their first train depot – the «Метролифт» (metrolift) that combined turntable with train lift.

Transition from viaduct to tunnel at Dnipro (Днiпро) station

The depot

Construction of the Kiev Metro commenced in August 1949, with the first stage running 5.24 kilometres from Vokzalna and Dnipro. Due to the deep level construction of the line, the new line only reached the surface at one location – Dnipro station, where the metro met the Dnieper River on an elevated viaduct.

Type 'EЖ' train emerges from the tunnel at Dnipro (Днiпро) station

Delays in construction saw tunnels towards the proposed depot at Shulyavskaya postponed to a later stage, so the search began for a replacement location. Construction of an underground link at the Vokzalna end of the line was rejected, leaving Dnipro station as the only option. This constrained location made provision of a railway depot difficult, with the river bank preventing the construction of a curve back to ground level. The solution – a temporary depot beneath the viaduct, accessed via the rotating train lift – the «Метролифт».

Photo via Central State Film and Photo Archive of Ukraine

The train lift was the length of a single metro carriage, and would lower each car from the elevated station to ground level, where the train would be rotated 90 degrees to meet the depot tracks. The depot was constructed parallel to the Dnieper River and had space for the repair of two carriages at a time. Equipment included a gantry crane, repair shops, and a warehouse for spare parts and materials.

And delivering trains

Delivery of metro trains to the depot was equally convoluted. Each carriage was delivered from the Mytishchi Machine-building Factory by rail to Darnitsa station, where a temporary ramp around 150 meters long was constructed towards the neighbouring tram line. Each carriage was place on temporary bogies so that it could negotiate sharp tramway curves, and then transferred via the tram network, crossing the Dnieper Rover via the Paton Bridge, until it arrived at the temporary depot, where standard bogies were then reinstalled.

Oleksandr Prymachenko photo via Central State Film and Photo Archive of Ukraine

On 21 October 1960 the first metro carriage was lifted up onto the viaduct at Dnipro, and a test train ran the next day. The new line opened to the public on 6 November 1960.

Due to the difficulty in accessing the depot, the majority of trains were stabled overnight in the running tunnels, only being lowered to ground level for major inspections and repairs. This procedure remained in place until 1965, when the eastern extension of the Metro to Darnytsia was completed, including the Darnytsia електродепо (electric depot) between Livoberezhna and Darnytsia stations.

The new depot also made the delivery of new trains to the Kiev Metro system much easier – trains transferred from the mainline network thanks to a Трамвайно-залізничний гейт (tram-rail gate) provided at the neighbouring Київ-Дніпровський (Kyiv-Dniprovsky) station.

Footnote – turntables never die

The remains of the metrolift at Dnipro station were removed in 2011, but the replacement Darnytsia depot still has a turntable for the turning of metro carriages.

And at the Kiev Metro Museum they have a scale model of Dnipro station, including the temporary depot and Метролифт.

Kiev Metro photo

And a similar situation in London

The Waterloo & City line on the London Underground is shuttle service that runs between two stations, with no surface connection for trains. Instead the depot is located underground, with a vertical lift once used to transfer rolling stock to and from the tunnels, until it was replaced by road cranes.


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2 Responses to What happens if you combine a turntable with a train lift?

  1. Pingback: A trolleybus turntable in Germany - Euro Gunzel

  2. Nico Peterson says:

    Would someone please tell me the logic of blank (windowless) bulkheads so the passengers cannot see outof the ends )hence the front) as this is unfortunalelythe pattern in Europe 8with very few exceptions) and all of the UK (except the tram line of croyden and Blackpool, and the Dockyards Railway, and lastlythe Tyne and Wear line, near Newcastle). The main line railways have NO front end seeing for the ridders whatsoevner. The oldest metro on theplanet, the Tube, has NO front view capabability as well. the new Crossline from Heathroow also has NO provisions for see out the front end either. (Plus the passengers cannot ride across the points shunting over to the other return tracks. This era seems to be so anti-trainspotter (or railfan) it is disasterous to railway enthusiasts. In Lyon, France, the only metro line in the world that has a rack as to negotiate a steep climb or descent has a huge untinted glass windscreen, only for the driver, and NOT the riding public. Thus with no windows in the buldhead, the passengers )and trainspotters) can never actually SEE the rack in this unique line!

    The trams in Lyon also have HUGE no entry pictogramme signs plastered on the door to the driner’s cab of the trams! They want it to be known very clear that thepassengers are NOT to see out the front end! Whatis going on? This seems to me like a carryover from the American NCL Scandal from General Motors as to DISCOURAGE an interestin rail transport, as to ‘hide’ the technology from the public and those interested! This is COUNTER to trying to promote electric rail travel as to make all this transparent is the best way to go, not this opagness which has plagued Europe. The new trams in Berlin have BLACK painted bulkheads with no window for the public and heavily tinted side windows. Since WW2 the U and S Bahn system has also blocked any end access to viewing by the ridership as well. Now the RER on the Paris metro has been retrofiting a one-way glass so by close inspection one can see out the front end intothe tracks ahead. If electric rail transport is to be ENCOURAGED the element of TRANSPARENCY MUST be hence forth recognised in the design of rolling stock! Even Vienna, Austria has new U-Bahn rolling stock that has now front end viewing for the public! So it CAN be done!

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