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Hanoi's First Metro Line Will Officially Open Tomorrow

Hanoi's Cat Linh-Ha Dong Line will be the first metro system in Vietnam to commence operation.

After a 10 year delay, Hanoi's Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line will begin operations this Saturday following a ceremonial handover from the Ministry of Transport to the city. All rides during the first 15 days will be complimentary.

The 13-kilometers, 12-station above-ground line from downtown Dong Da District to Ha Dong District in the southwest of the capital has suffered numerous setbacks and missed start dates since work began in 2011. Originally scheduled to be completed in 2013, issues regarding fund distribution, training from international experts and pandemic-related delays have pushed it back nearly a decade.

After the fare-free first 15 days, tickets will cost VND15,000 from end to end, with lower rates for shorter journeys. Monthly passes are set at VND200,000, though half-priced rates for students will also be available.

Operating between 5am to 11pm daily, the full trip will take 23 minutes with six trains operating 10 minutes apart. The schedule is expected to be revised in response to demand and rider habits. After six months, 12 trains will run with six minutes between arrivals. Each train will be able to hold approximately 900 passengers and travel 80 kilometers per hour. It's estimated that 733 employees are needed to staff the line upon launching. 

Seen as an important part of a multi-faceted approach proposed to reduce traffic congestion in the city, the line will link to 14 nearby bus stations with parking available for motorbikes and cars. Plans for restaurants and ATM machines at each stop are in the works.

In addition to time delays, the metro project has experienced a ballooning budget. With assistance from Chinese loans, the original cost had been estimated at VND8.77 trillion (nearly US$553 million) but rose to VND18 trillion over the years with increasing commitments from Vietnamese funds. 

The line is the first of eight in various stages of planning and construction for the capital city. Over the next decade, 305 kilometers of trainways, including three monorail sections, are hoped to be finished. 

[Photo: A train on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong Line during a test run last December/Nhan Dan]

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