RESIDENTS in the second-largest Caribbean city had their first look at their new metro network when the first trainset for the Maracaibo metro was unveiled to the public on August 2.

Siemens is supplying seven three-car sets derived from the latest Praha design, but equipped with air-conditioning and overhead power supply instead of third rail.

Venezuela’s largest port has around 2 million inhabitants, and is planning to build a four-line metro network totalling 60 km. A turnkey contract for the initial section of the 14 km Line 1 was awarded to a Siemens-led consortium in January 2001, and construction began in September 2003.

Expected to open for revenue service in January 2008, the initial section runs for 6·9 km from Altos de la Vanega to Libertor, serving six stations. In the longer term this line would be extended by a further 12 km from Libertor to Curva de Molina, adding another 11 stations.

With six of the seven trains in service, the metro will operate at 5min headways from 05.00 to 23.00, offering a capacity of 6000 passengers/h in each direction. The 60m long aluminium-bodied trains have a top speed of 70 km/h, and a commercial speed of 35 km/h is envisaged.