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'Why Do Traffic Lights Need to Be Monitored?'

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Alexander Borodin: Chief Specialist at the Traffic Signals Operation Department
of the Moscow Traffic Control Centre

In honour of Moscow Transport Day, we interviewed some real heroes — the people who drive us around every day, who help make our capital the best city on Earth.

How long have you been working here? Why did you choose this particular profession?

Actually, I had a career in the military—I served for 28 years. I spent 15 of them at the Higher Military Engineering Command School, where I trained military personnel for our country. After the conclusion of my military service, I retired and returned to my home city of Moscow. Some time later, I found out about the Traffic Control Centre from my neighbour. I took training courses and became an engineer. In March 2008, I came here to work as a traffic signals operation engineer. I've been working in the Moscow Traffic Control Centre for over a decade. Today, my job involves monitoring the launch of new traffic signals, checking the quality of maintenance work and the acceptance of new traffic lights.

Have there been any interesting or funny situations involving your job?

One time, I had an unpleasant experience involving a group of traffic signals on Trubnaya Square. The power supply to the signals was controlled from an electrical enclosure inside a residential building. I'll explain: sometimes, we require a power supply to connect traffic lights to. We submit an official application to have it connected, after which we receive access to a power supply. There was a sign saying: 'Traffic Light, Do Not Turn Off'. One day, the electronic lock on the front door of the building stopped working. The head resident of the building decided that the best course of action was to open the electrical enclosure where the traffic lights were connected and turn off our circuit breaker. The entire group of traffic signals on Trubnaya Square stopped working. We arrived there and asked her why she did this. She replied: 'I'm not letting your traffic lights work until you repair the lock on my door.' I had to call the police and explain to the woman that she couldn't do that. That was a long time ago. Electrical enclosures have a different protection system now. Nobody can open them like that today.

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In your opinion, what place in Moscow should everyone—tourists and locals alike—visit?

I believe that everyone in our country should visit Red Square and the Alexander Garden by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And also make sure to take a boat trip along the Moskva River.

Do you have any favourite spots in the city that you can see while you're at work?

Lots of them. And not just in Moscow, but also in the surrounding areas. For instance, the Kolomenskoye Estate Museum, the Kuskovo Memorial Estate, the Ostankino Palace.

If Moscow was a vehicle, what kind of vehicle would it be, in your opinion?

Moscow is a huge airship. It's every bit as big and crowded.

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