How to dig your own hole


What should you do when you retire? Why not try building your own subway system? Since he retired in 1984, Leonid Murlyanchik, now 69, has been digging a subway under his house in Lebedyan, Russia, planning to connect his home to his neighbors’ houses, and the neighborhood to the local train station.

81_personal_metro_illus1Welcome aboard the Murlyanchik Line. Your driver, Leonid Murlyanchik, formerly of the Yaroslavl train network, dug this 300-meter tunnel on his own using homemade tools. You are now traveling two meters beneath his house.

Severe delays are expected as no trains have yet run through these tunnels. In future, electrically powered wagons able to carry four people each will service the route. The management apologizes for any inconvenience caused, but requests your understanding: while a good day’s work can extend this tunnel by one meter, it takes three more days to strengthen that space with bricks and apply sealant to the walls. Construction has been stopped several times in the past 27 years, too, due to legal and financial issues.

The next station is closed. Actually, all the stations are closed. The Murlyanchik Line has several stops planned, one at each of Leonid Murlyanchik’s neighbors, but construction is suspended, pending permission from the neighbors to dig tunnels under their properties. Murlyanchik has already spent 250,000 rubles (US$8,900) of his 7,000-ruble (US$250) monthly pension to build this subway system, but estimates he needs another 500,000 rubles (US$17,800) to finish the project.

Murlyanchik started his subway with the intention of digging a six-kilometer tunnel to visit Ekaterina, a woman he liked in a neighboring village, but when Ekaterina’s son was released from prison he had words with Murlyanchik and put a stop to his plans. Now the network is designed to link the neighborhood with the train station. Skeptics say that Murlyanchik will miss the proverbial last train before he completes the network, but he remains defiant. “If I didn’t have belief, I would never do anything,” he says. “Hope dies last.”


From the pages of COLORS #82 - Shit.