EU Mobility Week: Inside the Sofia Metro

The European Union’s Mobility week is a continent-wide event that opens doors to mobility and transport operations for all citizens for free from 16th – 22nd of September. The 2017 edition of European Mobility week has been organised under the theme of clean, shared and intelligent mobility. The slogan is ‘Sharing gets you further’. The use of shared forms of transport can reduce costs and lower carbon emissions. The idea is to also encourage meetings between new people and make journeys more sociable. The thinking behind mobility week 2017 is to enable the public and local officials to experience the benefits of shared mobility. The week consists of 2,422 towns and cities with 605 mobility actions registered.


In Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, the Metro opened their doors to anyone who wanted to learn more about how the system operates and the new third line which is due to open in 2019. The third line will have 14 new stations built and will connect to lines 1 and 2 in 2 existing stations. The Sofia Metropolitan began operation on January 28, 1998. In July 2016, the metro opened the interconnection between lines 1 and 2. There are 35 stations and the total route length of 40.0 kilometres (24.9 mi) is among the top 30 of the most extensive European metro systems. The Metro provides fast connections between the densely-populated districts of Lyulin – Mladost (Line 1) and Nadezhda – Lozenets (Line 2). In April 2015 Line 1 was extended to Sofia Airport terminal 2.


The Mobility Week tour started at the Metro head office. It began by a tour of the control room for line 1 and 2 as well as the police security control booth. We observed how the lines are monitored and the trains instructed throughout the line. We also received a detailed presentation about the construction of the third line. It is a big construction that will traverse the city north-east to south-west. At present the number of passengers the Sofia metro carries daily is 350,000 with the third line it is anticipated the metro will carry 500,000 passengers. The construction entails 1000 workers building 16 stations (including 2 stations that are extensions of two on Line 1 and 2) and will generate 600 new jobs in the city.


The metro dates to the State-Socialist regime of Bulgaria. As such, the original two lines can be seen as socialist infrastructure. The new line presents an interesting counter point, as it has been built to European and not Soviet designs and operations; the new cars will be European rather than Soviet. The metro offers a window through which to explore the uses, adoption, and contestations of socialist and post-socialist infrastructure as they work in unison. Urban projects such as the metro showcase the competing urban cultures that continue to be at play and drawn into conversation over time and space.


For more info on Mobility Week:

For more info on the Sofia Metro:

Pictures awaiting endorsement

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