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Vietnam's first urban railway enters service

China-backed $900m commuter line in Hanoi opens after 6 year-delay

The Hanoi Metro Line 2A, originally scheduled to open in 2015, was delayed by 12 project reevaluations and over two years of safety checks. (photo by Tomoya Onishi)

HANOI -- Vietnam's first urban railway, a roughly $900 million project backed by China, began service in Hanoi on Saturday, following long delays for safety checks and to secure the land needed.

The Hanoi Metro Line 2A, construction on which started in 2011, is a 13 km, 12-station rail line between Cat Linh and Yen Nghia in central Hanoi. Vietnam paid for much of the project with official development assistance from China. China Railway Sixth Group, a subsidiary of China Railway Group, handled the line's engineering, procurement and construction.

"I have been waiting for this day for a long time. I think it will become more convenient to move around the city," said one 55-year-old Hanoi resident who rode the train.

Each train consists of four cars and can transport around 900 passengers. The train has a maximum speed of 80 kph. Traveling the entire line takes about 23 minutes.

The railway was originally scheduled to enter commercial service in 2015. According to local media, the construction plan went through 12 reevaluations and even after all the facilities were nearly complete, safety checks took over two years.

A one-way trip on the line costs between 40 and 70 cents. The City of Hanoi will open the line to citizens free of charge for the first 15 days of service.

Vietnam is working on other urban rail road projects as well. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's southern commercial capital, Hitachi and other Japanese companies are helping with construction of a rail line, while another in Hanoi has financial backing from France and the Asian Development Bank.

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