Work on a new Moscow metro line by two Chinese companies has been suspended because the plunge in the value of the ruble has made importing materials too expensive, say reports.
"We fixed the cost at about $2 billion, but now because of the strengthening of the dollar, we have put the project a little bit on hold," said the deputy mayor in charge of construction, Marat Khusnullin, at a conference in Moscow yesterday, 12 November.
In May, China Railway Construction Corporation and China International Fund were hired to build a metro branch connecting Moscow to its massive new southwestern territory.
Construction was expected to start next year, but the cost of importing materials into Russia has risen sharply because the ruble has lost almost 30% against the US dollar since January amid investor unease, Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, and low oil prices.
Khusnullin’s remarks were reported by the Interfax news agency, according to English-language newspaper, The Moscow Times.
The new subway is part of a major urban expansion of Moscow. In 2012 the Russian government redrew the city’s boundaries to double its size, an administrative manoeuvre in preparation for the development of the suburban hinterland.
The high concentration of government and commercial activity in downtown "old" Moscow has prompted this move to decentralise in order to relieve traffic congestion, housing scarcity and other problems.
The Moscow Times reported that more than 130 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) was slated to be spent on metro projects in 2014.
The new line was planned to open in 2018.
Photograph: Moscow’s boundaries have been redrawn to double the city’s area to relieve pressure on the old centre (NASA/Wikimedia Commons)