The famous formula of architectural trinity – durability, usefulness, and beauty – is perfectly embodied in such a complex and monumental structure as the Tashkent Metro. Of course, Tashkent underground system cannot come up with New York Subway and Moscow Metro in terms of total length of lines and number of metro station. However, this transportation network is a peculiar attraction of Uzbekistan’s capital.
The Metro was designed and constructed after Tashkent had suffered the destructive earthquake in 1966. Because of the unfavorable seismic conditions the designers and constructors had to cope with very difficult tasks. The complicated geological conditions – liquid-filled shingle and subsiding loess soil posed additional difficulties. That is why the Tashkent Metro is not deep. The passengers use the common stairs to get down to almost all the stations. Only a few of them are equipped with escalators. It must be noted that since the launch of the first underground line in 1977 several earthquakes have struck Tashkent. But none of them affected the operational quality of the Metro.
Today Tashkent has three underground lines, which are 47 km long in total. The first one, called ‘Chilonzor’, connects the business center of the city in Buyuk Ipak Yuli Avenue and the densely populated residential district Chilonzor. ‘Uzbekistan’ line connects the student campus that surrounds the buildings of the Tashkent State University and the city’s industrial areas. ‘Yunusabad’ line runs north from the center of Tashkent to ‘Yunusabad’ sporting complex, including tennis courts. Passageways connect all the three lines. Most of the routes the trains run in underground tunnels, and only in some sections the rails go up to the surface of the ground and run along the overpasses.
During the construction of the Tashkent underground system only local decorating materials were used: pinkish and light-gray marble from Gazgan and Nurata quarries, granites and diorites from the Kuramin and Chatkal mountains. Extensively used was the traditional Uzbek glazed ceramics and fancy glass. The best designers and artists of the republic were involved in decoration of the underground stations. Each of the 29 stations has a unique interior design. For instance, the white marble columns and huge crystal chandeliers hanging from the very high vault make the ‘Mustakillik Maidoniy’(‘Independence Square’) station look extremely festive. Majolica decorated vaults and ceramic reliefs featuring scenes from the works of the great Uzbek poet, embellish the ‘Navoi’ metro station. The ‘Pushkin’ station has bronze sconce lamps that resemble candelabrums of the early 19th century. The passengers of ‘Kosmonavtlar’ station can view the history of space exploration pictured on round wall panels resembling portholes of spaceships. Some of the stations have traditional Uzbek decorative patterns.
Soon the Tashkent metro, the most environment-friendly and fast means of public transport, is to reach another large city’s residential district called Yunusabad. More metro lines which the metropolis of Tashkent needs so badly are still being designed and constructed.