Work to begin on Vietnam's first metro this year

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Ho Chi Minh City transport authorities have approved a Japanese contractor's construction plans for the first phase of the city's first light rail project.

The construction package, agreed upon by the HCMC Urban Railway Management Department an Japanese contractor Sumitomo as well as Cienco 6, a construction company under the Transport Ministry, will include 17.5 kilometers of rail and 11 stations.

The package, all above-ground, will take four years to complete, beginning at the end of this year, according to the agreement signed on Wednesday.

The US$786.76 million package is one of the four packages that make up the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro project, linking the Ben Thanh Bus Station in downtown to the Suoi Tien Theme Park station near Binh Duong Province.

A report by news website VnExpress said the entire project will cover a total of 19.7 kilometers, passing through Districts 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh, Thu Duc and parts of Binh Duong's Di An District.

Three underground packages include 2.2 kilometers and three stations.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has approved a loan of $819.5 million to help Vietnam carry out the project. The money will be disbursed gradually depending on actual progress.

The entire metro system is estimated to cost nearly $3 billion and be complete by the end of 2018.

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