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The more you travel, the more stories you unravel in the world. One such fascinating tale is of the escalators of Moscow. While you plan your next vacation for better times, consider adding Russia’s capital – and its elongated staircases – to your bucket list. By Bayar Jain
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Travelling within Moscow is considered one of the easier tasks, considering its expansive network of subway stations deep under the streets. Apart from being one of the busiest metros in Europe, the bustling capital city also houses the longest such network in the world – after China. Moreover, this Russian city also boasts of having escalators so long that, in some cases, reaching from one end to another takes over three minutes! The most well-known among these is the 126-metre escalator ride at the Park Pobedy station, located 84 metres underground.
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Any first timer in Moscow is sure to stop and stare at these progressing elongated staircases. Much like the city’s overground buzz and many monuments, these escalators, too, embody the spirit and stories of the land and its people. With these rides tending to spread over a minute, commuters often use this time to reflect on the days gone by or to propel forward with renewed optimism. This few minutes of solitary self-reflection aside, Moscow’s escalators have another striking feature – a tiny booth at the end of the downward ride, within which an attendee sits perched monitoring his/her surroundings undisturbed.
It is estimated that there are over 649 escalators across the city’s subway stations, each guarded by the watchful eyes of the escalator attendee. Her/his task? To ensure the smooth functioning of these mobile staircases, thus aiding the free flow of over nine million daily commuters spread across the city’s 200 metro stations. On more productive days, reminding commuters to stand on the right side of the escalator, making way on the left, not sitting on the stairs, or simply yelling the code of conduct over loudspeakers are some of the activities an attendee undertakes. On other days, in case of accidents or emergencies, they are required to halt the escalators by pressing down on the emergency stop-buttons. This relatively low-paying job profile – around 14,000 rubles (roughly the same in INR) a month – requires the attendee to work in eight-hour shifts, with a day off every three days.
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