Underground Adventure

Baku Metro

Dating back to the period before World War II, Baku’s ambition to have an extensive underground rail network is finally coming to fruition thanks to the 2011-2015 State Program on […]

Dating back to the period before World War II, Baku’s ambition to have an extensive underground rail network is finally coming to fruition thanks to the 2011-2015 State Program on the Development of Baku’s Metro, which was approved by President Ilham Aliyev in March 2011. The program is a result of a presidential decree passed in 2008 regarding the development of Baku’s underground transport and aims to expand the subway system from its existing capacity of 23 stations and 34.6 kilometers up to 76 stations and 119 kilometers by 2030.

With costs estimated at AZN6 billion to AZN7 billion ($9 billion), the timely project will provide Azerbaijan’s fast-growing capital with an alternative to ground transportation by expanding the coverage of the city through the subway system, at a time when traffic jams are becoming more and more common due to increased economic activity in Baku. It is also part of a greater strategy to ensure sustained mobility in Baku, a strategy on which the Ministry of Transport and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are currently working. ADB has already allocated $300 million in loans for streamlining Baku’s traffic through the development of subway and metro bus systems, as well as the introduction of measures such as banning vehicles from outside the capital city from driving in Baku and the introduction of more toll roads.

In the early 1950s, Baku became the fifth city in the Soviet Union to be considered for a metropolitan network, as its population had surpassed the 1 million mark, which was a prerequisite for Soviet cities to be considered for metro lines. The first segment of the network, between the city’s historical center, Icerisheher, and the Nariman Narimanov station became operational in 1967. Building a metro system in a hilly city like Baku, where some of the slopes have inclines as steep as 60 degrees, posed significant challenges, which is why its design and construction took place gradually. Throughout thefollowing decades, the remaining stations were rolled out along the city’s two metro lines—the Red and the Green lines. Similar to other subway systems in the former Soviet Union, Baku’s subway stations were skillfully decorated to combine traditional Azerbaijani motifs and visual representations of the state ideology at the time.

After Azerbaijan’s independence, President Heydar Aliyev took a personal interest in the development of public transportation in the capital, a project that was continued by his successor. As a result of his efforts, in 2002, a 1.4-kilometer segment was added to the Red Line, between the stations of Ahmadli and Hazi Aslanov. During his administration, Baku Metro also experienced one of the more traumatic episodes in its history, which was a series of terrorist attacks in 1994 that resulted in dozens of casualties.

Under President Ilham Aliyev, three more segments totaling 4.9 kilometers were completed between 2008 and 2011. Furthermore, the fleet of cars was updated through the purchase of 166 modern wagons, and the surveillance and access to the stations were computerized for better control of passenger flow and increased security. The 23 stations were also endowed with 55 new escalators. In 2012, Azerfon, one of the country’s main telecommunications providers, also announced the introduction of 3G services in the main subway stations and in the subway tunnels.

The March 2011 development plan provided structure to the metro expansion plans by ensuring a more careful planning of said works to cover a greater area of the capital city. The first steps were taken in 2012, when Baku Metropolitan, the public operator of the subway system in Baku, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a joint venture formed by one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent construction companies, Akkord Industry Construction Investment Company (Akkord), and French engineering and construction multinational Bouygues Travaux Publics. The MoU concerns the reconstruction of one of the main subway stations in Baku, May 28, and the construction of three more stations and a seven-kilometer underground segment that would connect the existing Red and Green lines, which is expected to be rolled out by 2015.

According to Göksel Aybek, General Director of Akkord, “The contract, signed on December 16, 2013, has crowned our two-year joint efforts to develop the construction project for a new Khatai-Azi Aslanov-2 section of the Green Line.”

Indeed, Bouygues Group, to which Bouygues Travaux Publics belongs, is an experienced underground operator that has built or contributed to the development of the Cairo, Shanghai, Sydney, and Miami underground networks and the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp high-speed railway.

In September 2013, the Akkord-Bouygues venture, in collaboration with public tunnel management company Azertunelmetrotikinti and Ukraine’s Interbudmontazh, acting as a subcontractor, announced that works had begun to renovate several tunnels on the Khatai-Hazi Aslanov 2 sector that had been long abandoned. More recently, in February 2014, President Aliyev also announced administrative changes such as the replacement of the former Baku Metro by a Closed Joint Stock Company (CJSC) between the former Baku Metro and JSC Azertunnelstroy, as well as changes in the company’s management.

While the expansion of Baku’s metro system is still in its early stages, both the public and private actors involved are showing determination in their drive to deploy the Caucasus’ largest subway system. For now, Baku dwellers are anxiously waiting for the city’s third line to be rolled out in the coming years.

You may also be interested in...



Reconstruction in 2021?

View More

Green Economy

Saving Absheron

Azerbaijan and Pollution

View More


Baku Calling

Azerbaijan’s Economic Challenges

View More


Intourist Out-tourist

Top 3 Post-Soviet Travel Destinations

View More

Energy & Mining

Caspian: Sea or Lake?

Five countries in definition deadlock

View More

Real Estate & Construction

Wood for the Trees

Building in Baku

View More
Release the Brakes


Release the Brakes

Joint automotive production

View More
Az, A-Z


Az, A-Z

Doing Business

View More
View All Articles