The construction of the Panama’s $1.8 billion metro system is 90% complete and will be in operation by March 2014, according to Executive Secretary Roberto Roy.
Roberto Roy was speaking as two more Metro trains were delivered on August 26, bringing the current fleet to ten with the a further nine expected to be deployed before the end of the year.
The Executive Secretary explained that project managers had begun electrical tests in the Albrook area of the city three days early, and that early signs were very positive.
“We applied 1,500 volts direct current (dc) to the catenary (top cable carrying energy) which was transmitted to the test train through the pantograph (device that connects the train with the catenary wires)” Mr. Roy explained in an official statement.
The project managers moved one of the newly installed trains at a reduced rate within the area of the yards over a distance of approximately 100 to 200 meters. Roy explained that the purpose of this exercise was to test the “energization” of the area and to ensure that auxiliary systems such as lighting, signage, onboard systems and air conditioning were operating well.
Roberto Roy gave the all clear, and noted that the drive system was successfully operated with its own propulsion.
He said that management still had to oversee “a long period of testing, both static and dynamic, of trains and tracks, as well comprehensive checks into the railway systems, stairs, elevators, stations”.
Ricardo Martinelli, the President of Panama, visited the facilities earlier in the month, and asserted that the project would create significant social improvements for the people of the city. “Panamanians will go from one place to another in 22 minutes”, he explained, emphasising the difference this will make for many commuters.
The President also noted that Line 2 of the metro was already under construction, and lessons learned from the initial works will mean that the second line should be completed at a lower cost.
Line 1 will run for 13.7 km from the north to the south of the city, with connections to the National Bus Terminal.
While the news has been well received, Panamanians now anxiously await official confirmation of ticket prices, with a statement expected from Roberto Roy in September.