Saigon Bến Thành – Suối Tiên metro line

For the residents of Saigon, April has been quite an eventful month. Not only did the city see 3 weeks of isolation and empty streets like never before, it also testified to the emergence of something that they had been anticipating for a very long time: a metro station.

When people went out into the streets once the social distancing rules were lifted, a major transformation was awaiting in the heart of the city – the area in front of the Opera House was no longer cordoned off, and on its right hand side was a metro station.

City landscape restored

While the construction of Metro Line No.1, also known as Bến Thành – Suối Tiên line, has experienced a significant amount of delays over the years, the visible progress underneath the Opera House Station has finally taken shape.

Saigon Opera House
Lam Sơn park, the frontage of the Opera House
Image adapted from: Saigon Viewers

The Opera House, without layers of blue fence and construction at the frontage, wasn’t a sight that Saigonese were expecting to see in the foreseeable future. So it came as a pleasant surprise to many re-emerging from their homes after 3 weeks of self-quarantine to see the construction barriers taken down, unveiling the forgotten park that had been enclosed in it for ages.

Saigon Opera House
Unobstructed view from Nguyễn Huệ Street to the Opera House and Đồng Khởi Street

Lam Sơn Park, sitting in front of the Opera House, and long considered a blot on the landscape, is no longer cordoned off and undergoing renovations. Work is underway to restore the surrounding landscapes to their prior state.

Saigon metro station
Opera House Station entrance

Inside the Opera House Station

Saigon metro station
Governor of Ho Chi Minh City visiting the metro station on 27th April 2020
Image credit: Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee

The underground train station, fittingly named Opera House Station, features 4 basement levels spanning 49,400 sqm – close to the size of 7 football pitches – each. Basement 1, which will serve as a lobby, and has automated ticketing gantries and an information desk, is complete.

Saigon metro station
Image adapted from: HCMC METRO

Basements 2 and 4 will be home to the train platforms, where the passengers board and alight from the trains. Basement 3 will be used for storage of equipment and will house the workstations of the metro staff.

Saigon metro station
Image adapted from: Saigon Viewers

First metro trains expected to be shipped to Vietnam in Q2 of 2020

Saigon metro
Image credit: HCMC METRO

The trains ordered for use for Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line are made in Japan.

According to HCMC METRO, there have been difficulties in the train manufacturing and shipping processes due to COVID-19.

In April 2020, the trains underwent their final inspections in Japan. Hitachi, the train maker, has said that the trains are expected to be shipped to Vietnam in the 2nd quarter of this year.

Saigon metro
The interiors of Saigon’s first train
Image adapted from: HCMC METRO

In the first stage of the launch, each train will comprise 3 cabins – with a total length of 61.5m. In future, the number of cabins will be upped to 6 – adding up to a total of 121.5m in length.

Each train can carry up to 930 riders – there’ll be a total of 147 seats and a standing capacity of 783.

They can travel at a speed of 110km/h when running on elevated railway tracks and 80km/h when in the underground sections.

Metro line no.1 map

Saigon metro mapThe planned route of Bến Thành – Suối Tiên metro line, starting from Bến Thành Station (District 1) and ending at Suối Tiên Station (District 9).
Image credit: Metro Saigon WordPress

Metro line no.1’s route is 19.7km long, and will run from Bến Thành Station (District 1) towards Bình Thạnh District and District 2 in the east, ending at Suối Tiên Station (District 9).  

Saigon metro railway
An elevated railway track
Image adapted from: HCMC METRO

The impact of the metro line on Ho Chi Minh City

Once Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line goes into operation, it will bring about significant changes in the commuting habits of local residents.

For decades, Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular means of transportation is scooters, because its streets are made up mostly of tiny alleyways. Plus, riding scooters and feeling the wind in our hair just works in our tropical weather.

Saigon scooters
Scooters are the most popular means of transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

While it’s unlikely that the Metro will displace scooters immediately once it’s up and running, the transport network will definitely come in handy for expats or tourists who are not familiar with the city.

Traveling in a metro train is also affordable, safe, and convenient, which makes it likely to become a popular choice of transport among senior citizens.

Plus, it’s highly probable that the metro will help to reduce traffic congestion on the roads, which will lower air pollution, and bring down traffic accident rates too.   

The metro construction progress ignites hopes in the people

The construction of Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line has gone into overdrive, with 72% of the workload completed, and 96 days ahead of schedule at that, according to HCMAUR.

The metro staff are firing on all cylinders to carry on the next stage of construction, aiming to complete 85% of the workload within 2020 and bring the metro system into operation by 2021. They are also seen putting up recruitment ads looking for train driver coaches.

The visible progress of the metro construction, within a very short span of time since restructuring last year, has renewed local residents’ hope in a physical transformation of the city.

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Cover image adapted from: HCMC METRO

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