Sofia Metro System

One of the more recently built metro systems in Europe, the 4 line network in Bulgaria’s capital city first opened in January 1998. It currently consists of 4 standard gauge lines with 47 stations, carrying over 300,000 people each day.
There’s also an extensive tram network in Sofia, although this hasn’t been enlarged since 1995 as public transportation expansion has been focused on the metro system.

Construction started in the 1980’s but was affected by numerous delays, including financial issues and the complications of the archeology that was found. Under much of central Sofia lie the remains of the ancient city of Serdica, occupied from around 7000 BCE. Numerous remains were found during construction, including many from the Thracian and Roman eras. Serdica was an important Roman city and some of the remains uncovered by metro construction are now on display.

The first section to open in 1998 consisted of just 5 stations on Line One, with it being progressively expanded until 2015, with a further planned extension taking it to 17km (11 miles). Line Two was opened in 2012, although construction first began in the 1980’s, when NDK and European Union stations, along with their connecting tunnels were incorporated into the foundations of the new National Palace of Culture (NDK), which opened in 1981. The main construction work began in 2008.

The newest addition, Line Three, opened in 2020 and 2021, with a short section still under construction. There’s a detailed page on the construction here. It differs from the other lines by using overhead electric supply rather than 3rd rail. The system is an unusual one in that it uses a solid overhead conductor rail rather than wires. Another unusual feature of the line is the half height platform edge doors. Most new metro systems now incorporate platform edge doors, but of the more usual full height variety. Some stations on Lines Two and Four use an older system of lifting platform edge screens, similar in operation to a roller shutter.

Line Four also came into existence at the same time as Line Three, being created by splitting Line Two, although services still run over the entire length. However the system will be split at the current Obelya and Lomsko shose stations, where they will be replaced by a new station, Moderno predgradie. The date of construction is unclear. There are a couple of sections of overground line on the network, however they have this unusual roofing system, being covered by translucent plastic sheeting. It’s frustrating for those who enjoy the view from elevated metro lines!

The system uses 3 types of rolling stock, Lines 1,2 and 4 have Russian built stock, by Metrowagonmash. Line Three has Siemens Inspiro units, a total of 30 three-car sets that just operate on Line Three. The metro has been affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and subsequent sanctions, as there are issues obtaining support and systems compatible with the Russian automation technology already in use.

The network appears to be quick and efficient, operating from 5AM to Midnight 7 days a week, with train frequencies of between 3 and 14 minutes, depending on time of day. Tickets are cheap, with a whole day pass costing 4 Lev (about 2 Euros). This covers the metro, trams and bus networks in the city. A single Metro ticket costs 1.6 Lev (about 0.8 Euro). Various other ticket durations are available. The one annoying feature of the tickets is the validation system. Unlike most one day public transport tickets, this one needs to be validated every time it is used. Although the paper ticket has a barcode that is read by the scanners at the gate line, for some procedural reason it must be validated by a machine – which involves visiting the ticket office before scanning at the ticket gate. Every station does have a staffed ticket office however.
More information on the metro can be found at the Sofia Metro site.

If you’re thinking of visiting Sofia, check out the accomodation available at I stayed at the Favorit Hotel, a reasonably priced 3 star hotel near the station, I can recommend it This affiliate link gives me a small commission that helps to pay for the upkeep of this site and doesn’t cost you any extra.

When the left luggage point at the station isn’t convenient I use Radical Storage. The network of shops and other outlets worldwide keeps your bag safe and it’s all managed through the app. So if you arrive in a city with no local currency and the station lockers don’t take card payments, Radical Storage will work. This is an affiliate link that earns me a small commission when you join.

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