MOSCOW, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese engineers and workers are busy tunneling in southwest Moscow using domestic equipment and technology for a new metro line of the city.
This is the first time for the Chinese to build a subway in Europe.
The first tunnel was holed through in early April and the remaining eight tunnels are expected to be drilled through by the end of this year, said Xue Liqiang, a manager of the project with China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC).
Since August 2017, the CRCC has been building a 4.6-km section and three stations on the "Large Circle Line" or the "Third Interchange Contour" in Moscow, which will be completed by the end of 2020.
The company designed and produced five tunneling shields capable of coping with the city's harsh winter and complicated geological condition.
"The 12-hour record for our tunneling shields was an advancement of 21 meters, and the daily record was 35 meters. We are planning to beat a monthly record of 4000 meters, the highest speed ever in Russia," Xue said.
"Many Chinese students studied subway construction in Soviet Union in early 19400s and Soviet experts helped design the first metro line in Beijing. We are now working at the home of our former teachers," he said.
The CRCC hires more than 400 engineering and managing staff and over 700 workers for the project, and about half of them are Russians.
Chinese and Russian personnel used to have many different opinions and even argued for over a month as the two countries adopt different technological standards and approaches, said Konstantin Orlov, chief mechanician of the project.
"But now we are perfectly meshed. I admire Chinese colleagues' dedication and professionalism," said Orlov, who has 27 years of experience in metro construction.
Russian worker Aleksandr Kolomeytsev said he is getting well along with his Chinese colleagues and has picked up some simple Chinese. They usually enjoy dinner and have fun together after work.
To add a touch of Chinese features to the magnificent Soviet-style Moscow metro system, the CRCC has gotten permission to decorate the "Michurinsky Prospekt" station with red color, traditional auspicious flowers and patterns.
The CRCC won the bid to build a section of the "Large Circle Line" with its vast experience and advanced technology, said Maxim Liksutov, Moscow deputy mayor in charge of transport infrastructure development.
According to him, the Russian capital attaches great significance to expanding and upgrading its metro system as the metropolis faces serious traffic congestion.
Official data showed that Moscow has a population of around 12.5 million with nearly 2 million of them commuting in daily rush hours, and 5.6 million vehicles of various kinds registered there.
The city aims to increase metro lines from the current 400 km to 1,000 km by 2023.
In February this year, the CRCC won another contract worth over 5.64 billion rubles (about 88 million U.S. dollars) to build a 2.947-km section of the "Large Circle Line."
The Chinese company is expected to start tunneling in December 2019 and complete it in February 2021.
"We are very pleased that Chinese companies have come to our market and are working here to build important transport infrastructure for Muscovites," Liksutov said.