Upgrades for Aging Metro Go Nowhere

By John Varoli

City Metro officials say they are getting nowhere with City Hall as they try to squeeze out funding for crucial safety and equipment upgrades to St. Petersburg's ailing subway system.

Though Sergei Sukhov, the Metro's chief safety inspector, said passengers are in no immediate danger of being injured because of aging equipment, he warned that if funding is not forthcoming prior to the year 2000, life-threatening accidents could be possible.

"The situation is not critical, but if the city does not address this problem in time it might become so," said Sukhov in a telephone interview Monday.

"If nothing is done by the year 2000 then we will have a serious situation on our hands."

According to Sukhov, about 30 percent of metro escalators are in need of repair, and about 200 subway cars that have been in use for over 40 years should be taken out of service.

Sukhov said that the Metro this year was allocated money by the city Transport Committee to purchase only 15 new train cars, and the budget situation for 1998 looks even dimmer.

But some progress is being made. Escalator repairs are underway at the main entrance to the Nevsky Prospect station. Officials say that entrance is to be closed until next summer.

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