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Vietnam’s capital city trains 58 people to drive first metro trains

Workers walk in the underground section of Ho Chi Minh City's Metro Line 1. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HO CHI MINH CITY, Jul 16, 2020, VN Express. 58 candidates have begun a 15-month training course for driving trains on HCMC’s Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line. The training course that began Wednesday is being organized by the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR). Of the 58 candidates aged 21-35, one is a woman, VN Express reported.

The course participants will undergo both theoretical and practical training at the Vietnam Railway College, before undergoing advanced training and actually driving the trains themselves under the guidance of Japanese experts. After finishing the course successfully, they will receive metro train driving licenses in December next year, just as the city’s first metro line is completed.

The 10 best candidates among them will be sent to Japan for more advanced training. “They will learn about the operations of an urban railway company, among other things,” an MAUR representative said.

Pham Van Chanh, principal of the Vietnam Railway College, said the school has trained around 600 personnel working for Hanoi’s Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line since 2018, and is training another 500 to operate Hanoi’s Nhon-Hanoi Railway Station metro line.

Tatsuya Masuzawa, a representative of NJPT Association, which acts as a general counselor and is in charge of training drivers for Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line, said this is the first time that Japanese experts are transferring metro operation technologies to the city.

Saigon’s metro line 1 has 17 trains in total, each having three carriages. The trains are built by Japanese contractor Hitachi in Japan, with the total contract value at around $370 million.

The first two trains should have come in April with two Japanese experts coming to help install them, but the Covid-19 pandemic hindered this. Vietnam suspended all international flights in late March.

The line will run 20 km, 2.6 km of it underground, and cost a total of VND46.3 trillion ($1.96 billion) to build. It will have 14 stations, three of them underground. The target is to complete 85 percent of the work this year so that it can begin commercial operations by the end of next year. It is currently 75 percent complete.

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