Please make sure to read Good things about Moscow subway. Moscow subway is an essential transportation for getting around the city. In the past years many renovations happened to make subway even more convenient and comfortable to use. However there are still few things to know and be cautious about.
Moscow subway is extremely loud. Most lines still run old soviet-buit trains. Cellphone on most stations and inside running trains is pretty much useless because of horrible noise. You can not have conversation even with someone standing right next to you. You must shout to be heard. Noise-cancelling headphones are also useless, and if you want to listen to something during the ride, the only way is having tight plug-in headphones. On some lines old trains are replaced with newer ones and those new trains are much quieter on the inside. This replacement process is ongoing, but it takes time to renew all the trains in a system.
Driving style tends to be aggressive. The driver might accelerate to a full speed and hit brakes suddenly in the middle of a ride, causing passengers to fall. This may happen several times during the ride between two stations. Thus, you absolutely must hold onto something when doors are closed. In addition subway cars are shaky, tunnels have lots of turns. On a high speed it’s easy to fall when train enters the curve.
Train cars do not have enough hand rails. This applies to both new and old trains. Hand rails for passengers to hold during the ride are available only above seats and at the doors. In peak hours when the train is full you just can’t reach those hand rails. Try getting closer to the door, which does not operate, and lean on it or squeeze between passengers closer to the hand rails and grasp it. As a special precaution - do not stand in between doors. In this area between doors there is nothing to hold onto. If train abruptly slows down or speeds up, you will fall. This does not apply to people great at skateboarding, the experience is very much the same.
Moscow subway runs at a peak capacity. This means most of the time subway is packed with people. Especially in rush hours trains are so full that you might need to skip several trains. If you manage to get into the train, you will be jammed between sweaty people like a pickle in a jar. On transfer stations there are multiple passenger traffic bottom necks causing huge crowds and slow moving. Plan extra time (up to 20 minutes) for transfers in rush hours. Rush hours roughly are: 7am to 10am and 5pm to 8pm.
Moscow subway is extremely hot in summer. Temperature inside trains comes up to +40..+50, especially if train is full of passengers. Older trains are not air-conditioned. Air flow comes through vents on the roof and open windows. Newer trains have air conditioning - in theory. In practice air conditioning simply does not work most of the time. Unlike older trains, in new cars windows can not be opened. Sweating and suffocating is almost inevitable part of riding subway in summer.
All above does not apply to Moscow central circle (MCC). MCC is a brand new rail road connected with subway, but technically it is totally different from it. MCC riding experience is also different from subway.
Have a safe ride!