VIETNAM: A ceremony at Long Binh in Ho Chin Minh City's District 9 on February 21 marked the start of ground clearance works on the site chosen for a US$28m depot for the city's first metro line.

Bids are due to be called imminently for four construction contracts, and major works for the 19·7 km Line 1 are expected to begin in early 2009. Completion is now planned for 2014, deputy head of HCM City Urban Railway Authority Thi Anh Nguyet said at the event.

Japan Bank for International Co-operation has agreed to provide US$905m through its development loans programme, with the city authorities meeting the remainder of the US$1·09bn cost.

Line 1 is the first of six lines in a US$6bn urban rail development plan running to 2020 which was approved by the city during 2007. Starting at Quach Thi Trang Square near Ben Thanh Market, the first 2·6 km to Ba Son Shipyard will run underground, with three stations. The remaining 17·1 km to Long Binh depot and the terminus at Suoi Tien Park will be elevated and have 11 stations. An end-to-end journey will take 29 min, with six-car trains running for 20 h a day. The anticipated initial ridership of 162 000 passengers/day is predicted to reach 630 000 by 2030.

  • On the day of the groundbreaking ceremony the German government announced €86m of funding towards the US$1·2bn Line 2, which will run 19 km from the An Suong crossroad in District 12 to Thu Thiem in District 2.