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After Years of Delay, Operating Company of Saigon's 1st Metro Line Is Broke

Years of delay, which has been further compounded by the extended pandemic, have depleted the funding for Saigon Metro's operator.

VnExpress reports that HCMC Urban Railway Company No. 1 (HURC1), the state-owned company which will operate the city's first metro line when it opens, has run out of money.

HURC1 was established in 2015 with charter capital of US$613,000 to buy office equipment. Since the company would not have any operating revenue until the Bến Thành-Suối Tiên line opens, Saigon would have to provide an operating budget from its own coffers. 

This arrangement was made with the expectation that the metro line would open in 2018, but four years later, the route is still a long way off from being operational. Its budget has grown to US$1.89 billion, and while it is not clear how much has been spent to keep HURC1 running, the company currently has no funds. 

One of its most important tasks is to train future metro train drivers, an activity it can't afford. It is estimated that HURC1 will need roughly 700 employees once the line opens, but at the moment it only has 15. It remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved, as the Ministry of Planning and Investment will not allow city officials to increase HURCI's charter capital to cover costs. 

The Bến Thành-Suối Tiên metro line is roughly 90% complete, with a public opening expected in late 2023 after years of delays.

[Photo: A metro station under construction in 2017]

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