When presidential candidate Ricardo Martinelli said he would build a brand new subway in Panama, everybody thought it was an April Fools’ prank. One more political promise to rake in more votes, but would never be accomplished. Since the beginning of the republic we have seen these vaporware political promises that vanish like magicians’ white rabbits into thin air.
However this time, the president of “El Cambio” is making things happen. All over the city there are construction workers hard at working on the subway which is expected to open sometime in 2014.
The building of a subway is a mega-project which challenges the expansion of the Panama Canal in complexity and cost. Construction started on February 14, 2011, coinciding with Saint Valentine’s Day. The cost of the complex project is approximately $1.6 billion and will open to riders in 2014.
The subway—the first in Central America—is being built by an international consortium that includes French Alston, Brazilian Norberto Odebreth and Spanish Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas.
Alstom will design and build the trains and electromechanical systems for the metro. The system is expected to open with an initial capacity of 15,000 passengers an hour in each direction with more being added until a maximum capacity of 40,000 passengers is reached.
When the project ends, trains will travel the 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) line in 23 minutes with stops at 13 stations, some above ground and other below. There will be four subway lines, one of them over the Panama Canal. Ricardo Martinelli will only build the first line. The rest will be completed by the next administrations.
Below are some historic pictures of the initial construction of this grand public works.
In an effort to save some pictures for tomorrow, I will temporarily stop here. If you’re interested in looking into the future, we encourage you to return tomorrow for more pictures of the Panama Subway. Good Day.