The first metro lines of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are under construction, and like most first lines of a metro system, they are delayed and over budget. Line 2A of the Hanoi Metro was originally planned to be operational by 2016, while the first metro line in Ho Chi Minh City had an original target date of 2017. It’s now the end of 2019 and both cities will enter the 2020’s without having an operational metro.
Every time another delay is announced, netizens of each city can be heard venting their frustrations on social media. Just how bad are delays though? To make a comparison I found the cost and construction times of other first metro lines in Asia.
For this comparison, I used cities that built metros recently. I haven’t compared old metro systems as there are fewer records, and the labour costs and construction methods are from a different era. For that reason, there is no Hong Kong (1979), Seoul (1974), Beijing (1971), and the completely ancient by now Tokyo (1927).
For Southeast Asia, I left out Manila and Kuala Lumpur. Even though the first Manila metro line opened in 1999, they have a light rail from 1984 that operates like a metro. In KL the first transit line was the Ampang light metro (LRT) which opened in 1996. KL is worthy of a separate article as their system is a crazy mess of transport types (light rail, metro, monorail, and commuter railways) by different operators.
Comparison Table Of First Metro Lines In Asa
This data compares how Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are faring compared to other prominent metro systems. I’ve worked out the average construction speed (kilometres of track per year), and the construction cost per kilometre with a column adjusted for inflation. For lines that aren’t completed, I’ve used estimated costs and completion times.
|Line||KM||const. (days)||Avg. km per year||Cost USD||Cost USD (2019)||Avg. $ per km||Avg. $ per km (2019)|
|Hanoi Line 2A||13.1||3680||1.299||868,000,000||868,000,000||66,259,542||66,259,542|
|HCMC Line 1||19.7||4142||1.735||1,880,000,000||1,880,000,000||95,431,472||95,431,472|
|Taipei Brown Line||10.5||2675||1.433||2,448,600,000||4,014,018,539||66,259,542||108,620,040|
|Shanghai Line 1||4.4||1226||1.31||81,990,000||145,941,065||18,634,090||33,168,422|
|Guangzhou Line 1||5.4||1279||1.541||449,604,000||694,128,125||83,260,000||128,542,245|
|Bangkok BTS Skytrain||23||2106||3.986||1,700,000,000||2,624,571,429||73,913,043||114,111,801|
|Delhi Line 1||8.3||1546||1.96||293,710,000||419,925,301||35,386,747||50,593,410|
|Dhaka Line 6||11.73||2376||1.801||2,800,000,000||3,091,482,119||139,303,482||153,805,080|
|Lahore Orange Line||27.1||1851||5.343||1,600,000,000||1,736,300,772||59,040,590||64,070,139|
Hanoi Metro – Line 2A (Cat Linh Line)
[Thai Ha Station – Hanoi.]
There were two lines under construction in Hanoi when this comparison was made; Line 2A Cat Linh Line (C), and Line 3 Van Mieu Line (V).
Line 2A began construction on 10 October 2011, and it was initially scheduled to open in 2016.
Line 3 was the first line to begin construction in 2010, and it was originally meant to start service in 2018. It is now estimated to open in 2023.
Even though Line 3 began construction first, I have used Line 2A as the comparison as it was planned to be opened first.
Line 2A is 13.1 km long with 12 stations. The original cost was budgeted at $552.86 million, which has since grown to more than $868 million.
The delay in 2019 was attributed to a communication breakdown between the contractor and the government regarding reporting of safety equipment. This is a classic example of how first metro lines get delayed. The theory being that in the future when the next lines are built, these same mistakes are not made.
The line was on the cusp of opening in 2020 until it got tangled up in more red tape and pandemic restrictions. After over ten years since the line began construction, Line 2A opened on 6 November 2021.
Hanoi Metro Line 2A Stats
Line Length: 13.1 KM
Construction Time: 10/10/2011 to (estimated) 06/11/2021 (3680 days).
Construction Time Per KM: 1.299 km per year.
Construction Cost: $868 million USD (2019).
Construction Cost Per KM: $66,259,542 USD.
Local media is still reporting the revised cost of $868 million USD from 2019, though there were more costs in the following two years.
Hanoi Metro – Official site.
Hanoi Metro and Line 2A, Hanoi Metro – Wikipedia.
Ho Chi Minh City Metro – Line 1
[Thao Dien station construction – Line 1 HCMC Metro.]
The Ho Chi Minh City Metro system has one line under construction out of a projected network of 6 metro lines, 1 light rail, and 2 monorails. Work on Line 1 began in August 2012. Since then the project has been delayed for a number of reasons, including slow land clearance and funds not being dispersed in a timely manner.
[Ho Chi Minh City metro under construction.]
Since construction began the cost and estimated time of completion has changed numerous times. The latest reports have the project now costing 1.88 billion USD, with Line 1 operating by late 2023 or early 2024.
Ho Chi Minh City Metro Line 1 Stats
Line Length: 19.7 KM
Construction Time: 28/08/12 to (estimated) 31/12/2023 (4142 days).
Construction Time Per KM: 1.735 km per year (calculated to 31/12/2023).
Construction Cost: $1,880,000,000 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $95,431,472 USD.
After looking at all the other metro systems it’s worth noting that the HCMC Metro has the most complex first line out of any of the metro systems I have made a comparison with. For example, Line 2A in Hanoi is all elevated with stations in the middle of the road.
In contrast, the HCMC Metro is building a central station (Ben Thanh) that will be a future interchange for three lines. This is all underground and four levels deep. This will also include a pedestrian plaza at Ben Thanh, and an underground shopping mall between Ben Thanh and the next station at Opera House. It will also be connected to the One Central HCM towers.
[Ben Thanh central station construction.]
It might have been better to have this reported as a separate project so as to not make the final cost of Line 1 look so expensive. At the very least the cost of the Ben Thanh station project could have been divided between Lines 2 and 4 (the future interchange lines).
On a positive note, I’ve not seen any other metro that started out with a 3-line interchange in the middle of the city. This is going to make the Ho Chi Minh City system get the most coverage with the least amount of lines.
Management Authority For Urban Railways – Official site.
Ho Chi Minh City Metro – Wikipedia.
Taipei Metro – Wenhu / Brown line (BR)
The Taipei Metro is a model of what a good metro system should look like. It’s cheap and efficient, and it now has a service to the airport that offers a limited express and stopping-all-stations alternative. Its first line though was one of the slowest to build.
The Taipei Metro was first proposed in 1968, and construction didn’t begin until December 1988. The first stage of Muzha–Neihu line – now known as the Wenhu or Brown line (BR) – was 10.5 km of elevated railway with 12 stations. It was budgeted at NT$42.6 billion, with construction to be completed three years later in December 1991.
The project then faced numerous calamities during construction, including fires, derailments, worker strikes, computer failures, and legal battles between the suppliers and the government. With road closures to make way for construction and increasing traffic, this era was known as the “dark age of Taipei traffic”.
The system finally opened on 28 March 1996 over four years behind schedule. The final cost was NT$66.7 billion, 24.1 billion over the original estimate (57% over budget).
From that inglorious beginning, the Taipei Metro has grown to 5 lines with 117 stations operating on a system length of 131.1 km. With each new line, they have been able to compound on their knowledge to become an efficient metro-building organisation. The system is now a model of quality and reliability. Visitors who come from a city with no metro or an old metro system can only dream of having a metro like Taipei’s.
This animated map shows the gradual expansion of the Taipei Metro up to 2015.
[Image via Wikimedia.]
Taipei Metro Brown Line Stats
Line Length: 10.5 KM
Construction Time: December 1988 to 28/03/1996 (2675 days).
Construction Speed: 1.433 km per year.
Construction Cost: NT$ 66,700,000,000 / $2,448,600,000 USD (1996)
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $4,014,018,539.
Construction Cost Per KM: $66,259,542 USD / 108,620,040 USD (2019)
english.metro.taipei – Official site.
Taipei Metro and Wenhu line – Wikipedia.
Shanghai Metro – Line 1
China are the undisputed metro building champions of the world. There are 37 cities with some form of transit, and another 7 cities with a metro under construction. There are too many to list for this comparison, so I have picked Shanghai as one of two Chinese examples.
I used Shanghai as an inspiration for my Ho Chi Minh City concept map (“If Saigon had a subway like Shanghai”) as the cities have some similarities. Apart from them both once being known as The Pearl Of The Orient, they both have new urban areas on the east side of their rivers (Pudong and Thu Thiem). Saigon will also eventually have two airports. The Shanghai Metro has elements that I think Saigon should copy, such as connecting each airport with a metro, and using the metro system to develop the new urban areas.
Construction of the Shanghai metro got underway in 1990 after 30 years of talks, planning, and securing funding. Line 1 of the Shanghai Metro was originally 16.1 km servicing 13 stations from Shanghai South to Shanghai Railway Station.
The project was budgeted to cost $300 million USD, with the German government being the biggest lender with a loan of DM460 million ($230 million USD). This was a different country back then, and the Shanghai metro was one of the first opportunities that the west had to invest in China.
Line 1 was originally built in two stages, with the first section of 4.4 km from Shanghai South to Xujiahui opening on 28 May 1993. The final stage was completed on 10 April 1995. I have used this first operational section as the comparison example.
From this modest 4.4 km stretch of railway in 1993, the Shanghai Metro system has since grown to become the world’s largest rapid transit system by route length. At the end of 2019 there is now 676 kilometres with 413 stations on 16 lines. It is projected that it will reach 1000 km by 2030.
Line 1 has also grown, with the original 16.1 km route now being 36.39 km.
Shanghai Metro Line 1 Stats
Line Length: 4.4 KM
Construction Time: 19/01/1990 to 28/05/1993 (1226 days).
Construction Speed: 1.310 km per year.
Construction Cost: $81,990,000 USD (1993)*
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $145,941,065 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $18,634,090 USD / $33,168,422 USD (2019)
* 4.4 km is 27.33% of 16.1 km. 27.33% of $300,000,000 is $81,990,000.
Even by 1993 standards, 300 million for a 16 km metro was a bargain. After adjusting for inflation there is no way they could do this today. These days the minimum price for a stretch of metro in Shanghai (above ground in the outer suburbs) runs at 500 million yuan (over $71 million USD) per kilometre. Construction in the city centre is up to 1.3 billion yuan (over $186 million USD) per kilometre.
The lesson here – to paraphrase an old saying – is that the best time to build a metro was 30 years ago, and the second best time is now. This low price reminds me of the light rail proposal in Ho Chi Minh City. This was originally proposed in 2006 at a cost of 100 million euro for the 12 km line from District 1 to Mien Tay Bus Station.
Shanghai Metro – Official site.
Transportation Deployment Casebook/Shanghai Metro – Wikibooks.
Shanghai Metro and Line 1 (Shanghai Metro) – Wikipedia.
The Shanghai No 1 Subway Line [PDF] – Report from the Japan Railway & Transport Review, January 1997.
Guangzhou – Line 1
A factor of metro delays is land acquisition and relocation of affected residents. Part of the reason the HCMC Metro has faced delays and cost blowouts has been due to slow land clearance. Line 1 of the Guangzhou Metro didn’t have that problem.
The city of Guangzhou had to relocate approximately 100,000 residents in 20,000 households for the construction of Line 1. The then-mayor Li Ziliu oversaw the demolition of buildings totalling 1.1 km2. Like a modern-day Haussmann, he became known as “Li the Demolisher”.
Line 1 began construction in December 1993 and it opened in two stages. The first section of 5.4 km opened on 28 June 1997, and the final 13.1 km section opened in June 1999.
Guangzhou Metro Line 1 Stats
Line Length: 5.4 km.
Construction Time: 28/12/1993 to 28/06/1997 (1279 days).
Construction Speed: 1.541 km per year.
Construction Cost: 449,604,000 USD (1999)
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $694,128,125 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $83,260,000 USD / 128,542,245 USD (2019).
For the sake of comparison I’ve gone with the first opening date. If I went with the final date, then the 18.5 km line has an average construction speed of 3.361 km per year. The construction cost is just a percentage of the total 12,750,000,000 CNY / $1,540,310,000 USD (1999), and not a reflection of what that section cost.
This was an expensive build compared to other metros, though you have wonder how much of that was for land purchases and resettlement.
Guangzhou Metro – Official site.
Guangzhou Metro and Line 1 (Guangzhou_Metro) – Wikipedia.
Singapore – North-South Line
The first metro line in Singapore opened in 1987. I thought about not including this line as the eighties are far back by now (a frightening thought for those of us who grew up in the eighties). I’ve included Singapore because emerging cities aspire to be the next Singapore, thus it is the city used most as an aspirational goal.
A metro was first proposed in 1967, and it took years of planning and debates to come to a decision. An alternative rapid bus transit system was seriously considered until the metro was finally approved in May 1982. Sitting here with the benefit of hindsight, building the metro was a no-brainer. Singapore in the early eighties wasn’t the economic powerhouse that it is now, so it was a difficult decision at the time.
Work began on the first phase of the metro on 22th October 1983. This stage included the North-South Line and East-West Line, and it was reported to cost 5 billion SGD.
The first phase of the North-South Line cost around $2.7 billion SGD to build and this was the first line to open.
Both lines opened in stages rather than waiting for the whole line to be complete. The first section of the North-South line began operations on 7 November 1987, with five stations over 5.9 kilometres from Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh. The line was gradually extended to Yishun in the north and Marina Bay to the south on 4 November 1989, for a total length of 19.8 km. The line has since been extended and is now 45 kilometres long.
Singapore MRT North-South Line Stats
Line Length: 5.9 km.
Construction Time: 22/10/1983 to 07/11/1987 (1478 days).
Construction Speed: 1.457 km per year.
Construction Cost: 378,434,343 USD (1983).
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $977,272,495 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $64,141,414 USD / $165,639,406 USD (2019).
For these figures I’ve taken 5.9 km as a percentage of the 19.8 km total line to show an average cost of the first opened section. The total of the first line was 2,700,000,000 SGD / $1,270,000,000 USD (1983) – $3,279,660,241 USD in 2019. At the start of construction 1 SGD = $0.47 USD. The rate in 2019 was 1 SGD = $0.74 USD.
I couldn’t get exact amounts for this line, so I’m not satisfied with the totals. The high cost corroborates with the figures quoted by the Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
For countries that are building a metro for the first time and are concerned about cost blowouts, the most recent metro line in Singapore went from an estimated $12 billion SGD to $20.7 billion SGD. That worked out to $490 million SGD per kilometre ($361 million USD per kilometre).
Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore) and North South MRT line – Wikipedia.
HistroySG – The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system began operations on 7 November 1987.
A Journey into Singapore MRT’s Past – Remember Singapore.
Jakarta – North-South Line
Jakarta is a better yardstick than Singapore if Vietnam is looking for a city to compare to. This Southeast Asian megacity already has a small commuter railway system, but the North-South Line was the first metro line for the city.
After years of promises and planning, the metro began in earnest when the Indonesian Ministry of Transport approved the first line in September 2010. Construction of the North-South Line then began in October 2013.
[Bundaran HI station.]
The 15.2 km line from Bundaran HI to Lebak Bulus Grab was initially scheduled to open in 2016. After many delays it opened for free service on 24 March 2019, with commercial services beginning on 1 April 2019.
[Cipete Raya station on the Jakarta North-South Line.]
The cost of phase 1 construction was Rp 16 trillion, funded by a soft loan through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with a 30 years tenure and 0.25% interest per annum.
Of the total length, 9.2km of the rail track is elevated and 6km is underground. There are 13 stations (7 elevated stations and 6 underground stations).
Jakarta Metro North-South Line Stats
Line Length: 15.2 KM.
Construction Time: October 2013 to 24/03/2019 (2001 days).
Construction Speed: 2.773 KM Per Year.
Construction Cost: 16,000,000,000,000 IDR / $1,050,000,000 USD (2018)
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $1,140,490,624 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $69,078,947 USD / $75,032,278 USD (2019).
At this point it’s worth pointing out the imprecision of comparison of construction costs with US Dollars over time. Indonesia got a Rp 16 trillion loan which may have been released over the course over the five years of construction. At the start of the project 1USD was 11,547 IDR, and by the end of the project the USD had strengthen and 1USD was worth 14,235 IDR.
For the USD figure of Rp 16 trillion I’ve used $1.05 billion as estimated in The Jakarta Post on 25 October, 2018.
There is another figure that quotes the line at $1.7 billion, though that appears to include phase II which is an 8.1 km extension of the current line.
These mega projects also show how Indonesia needs to get on with their plan to redenominate the rupiah. 16 trillion rupiah looks like 16,000,000,000,000 IDR. Vietnam should also consider redenomination.
Jakarta MRT – Official site.
Jakarta MRT – Wikipedia.
Jakarta Mass Rapid Rail Transport – Project fact sheet.
Bangkok – BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit/Silom Lines
The BTS Skytrain comprises two lines; The Sukhumvit Line and Silom Lines. They were built at the same time with an interchange at Siam. The station was built to provide a seamless transfer between lines when travelling in the same direction. The BTS Skytrain is the only system in this comparison that has two lines.
[Siam station interchange.]
The Skytrain was the first metro system in Bangkok, and it’s now operating at a profit with ridership exceeding its original forecasts. Bangkok’s journey to establishing a transit system though got off to an inauspicious start.
In 1990 construction began on a transit line from Hualamphong Railway Station to Don Muang Airport (which was still the main airport of Bangkok). This was part of the Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System, which is better known now as the Hopewell Project.
The project was suspended in 1992 and finally cancelled in 1998. Even today you can still see some of the Hopewell pillars on the way to Don Muang. There have been times when the contractors of the Ho Chi Minh City Metro have threatened to abandon the project when they weren’t paid on time. I thought that no city would allow a transit system under construction to be abandoned, and then I think of Hopewell. Granted that Hopewell was about 12% completed so it was easier to abandon. Hopewell remains as a costly misadventure that still hasn’t been resolved twenty years later.
A plan for a Bangkok metro system predates Hopewell, but planning for the BTS got underway in 1991 with a published study recommending private concessions to build a railway. In April 1992 a private company (BTSC) signed a 30 year concession to build and operate the railway. Utility relocation began in March 1994, marking the start of construction.
The original 1992 concession agreement had the project finishing in 1996, and it was later revised to 1999. The BTS Skytrain officially opened on the King’s birthday, on December 5, 1999.
After the revised date, this $1.7 billion project came in one month ahead of schedule and with no cost overrun or any other major cost disputes or claims.
The initial 2 lines had 22 stations over a system length of 23km, and both lines have since been extended to almost twice the length. The Skytrain has now become a model for other private railways, with 20% of their income coming from media, property, and other services (as of 2019).
Bangkok BTS Skytrain Stats
System Length: 23 KM.
Construction Time: March 1994 to 05/12/1999 (2106 days).
Construction Speed: 3.986 KM Per Year.
Construction Cost: 1,700,000,000 USD (1999).*
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $2,624,571,429 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $73,913,043 USD / $114,111,801 USD (2019).
* There are different construction cost reports that put the construction cost at 1.4 billion with 300 million interest payments. This was in the mid-nineties when interest rates were higher, and there was also the 1997 Asian financial crisis. I’ve used the full 1.7 billion amount for calculations.
BTS Group Holdings Public Company Limited – Official site.
BTS Skytrain – Wikipedia.
Traffic Demand Risk: The case of Bangkok’s Skytrain (BTS) [PDF].
Against all odds, Keeree Kanjanapas built Bangkok’s Mass Transit Systems – Forbes article from 2016 notes that 41% of revenue comes from media, including advertising and online.
Delhi Metro – Red Line
While most media attention of new metro systems tend to focus on East Asia, India has been getting on with the business of building new metros. India now has 13 cities with a metro, with another 5 cities with a metro under construction.
For this comparison I will use the Delhi Metro. This is the largest metro in India, with 12 lines over 391.38 km.
[The Delhi metro network by delhimetrorail.com (view larger image here).]
The need for a metro in Delhi was first raised in 1969, and in 1984 a multi-modal transport system was proposed. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was established in 1995, and work on the Delhi Metro Red Line started on 1 October 1998.
The Red Line was part of Phase I of construction, covering the first 3 lines (Red, Yellow, and Blue) over a total of 65 kilometres with 59 stations. Phase I was broken down into stages, so segments of each line were opened instead of waiting for the whole line to be finished.
The first segment was 8.3 km with 6 stations from Tis Hazari to Shahdara, and it was inaugurated on 24 December 2002.
The Red Line is now 34.69 km with 29 stations at the end of 2019.
The initial phase of the $2.3 billion project wrapped up in December, 2005, on budget and nearly three years ahead of schedule.
Delhi Metro Red Line Stats
Line Length: 8.3 KM.
Construction Time: 01/10/1998 to 24/12/2002 (1546 days).
Construction Speed: 1.960 km per year.
Construction Cost: $293,710,000 USD (2002).*
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $419,925,301 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $35,386,747 USD / $50,593,410 USD (2019).
* I couldn’t find a separate construction cost for this 8.3 km section. Published reports were showing the amount of $2.3 billion for phase I, which covered 3 lines with 59 stations over 65 kilometres. 8.3 km is 12.77% of 65 km, and 12.77% of 2.3 billion is 293,710,000.
Phase I was relatively cheap compared to other metro systems, and now in Phase III it’s being reported that the construction cost is up to Rs 552 crore (approx 78 million USD) per kilometre. This is similar to the jump in cost in Shanghai, where labour was considerably cheaper when they first built it.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation – Official site.
Delhi Metro and Red Line (Delhi Metro – Wikipedia.
Delhi Metro Rail System, India – Fact sheet from Railway Technology.
The Construction of the Delhi Metro – Centre For Public Impact.
Dhaka Metro – Line 6
With a population of over 17 million people, Dhaka is the world’s most densely populated city. If ever there was a city that needs a metro, it’s Dhaka.
Dhaka have 5 lines planned, and using a numbering logic like Hanoi the first line under construction is Line 6. This is a 20.1 km elevated railway consisting of 16 stations.
After a false start with a ceremony in October 2013, construction began on 26 June 2016. It was scheduled to open on the golden jubilee of Victory Day in December 2021. The line opened on 28 December 2022.
Line 6 will be 20.1 KM when it is fully completed. The first phase that opened in December 2022 is 11.73 kilometers, so this number is used in the calculation of the construction speed.
Dhaka Metro Line 6 Stats
Line Length: 11.73 KM.
Construction Time: 26/06/2016 to 28/12/2022 – (2376 days).
Construction Speed: 1.801 KM Per Year.
Construction Cost: $2,800,000,000 USD (2013).
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $3,091,482,119 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $139,303,482 USD / 153,805,080 USD (2019).
The cost calculation gets murky here as the cost is quoted for the complete line. An additional cost of Tk 11,486.92 crore was added in 2022 and the length of the line increased by 1.16 km. The total cost will reach Tk 33,471.99 crore.
I’ve used the 20.1 KM figure for calculating the cost per kilometre with the original 2.8 billion 2013 US Dollars. That is an expensive metro, but the good news is that 85% of this is a loan from JICA with a very reasonable 0.01% interest rate.
Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) – Official site.
Dhaka Metro Rail – Wikipedia.
Lahore Metro – Orange Line
The Orange Line is one of three lines planned for Lahore, and it will be the first metro line in Pakistan. The line will span 27.1 km with 26 stations, of which 25.4 km is elevated and 1.72 km is underground.
[Lahore Metro map by UrbanRail.Net.]
The initial cost was estimated to be $1.55 billion USD in 2015. Another 391 million rupees ($3,694,260 USD) was approved in 2016, with an additional top-up of 2 billion rupees ($18,823,500 USD) in 2017 to integrate the metro and Metrobus interchanges. This puts it at around 1.6 billion USD.
[3D View of Orange Line Metro Train Lahore.]
The Lahore Metro project has reported its construction costs and land acquisition costs separately, which makes more sense. Unfortunately, other metro systems haven’t, so it’s harder to make a true comparison with these different reporting methods. The cost of land acquisition for the first metro line is Rs. 13.80 billion (approx $89 million USD).
One thing I’ve noticed while reading news reports about first metro line construction is that everyone likes to complain about the delays or costs. Lahore has had it’s fair share of delays, on top of court orders to stop construction near historic sites (a problem that Hanoi has encountered on another line).
The line was expected to open in March 2020. The metro finally opened on 25 October, 2020.
Lahore Metro Orange Line Stats
Line Length: 27.1 KM.
Construction Time: 01/10/2015 to (estimated) 25/10/2020 – (1851 days).
Construction Speed: 5.343 km per year.
Construction Cost: $1,600,000,000 USD (2015).
Construction Cost in 2019 USD: $1,736,300,772 USD.
Construction Cost Per KM: $59,040,590 USD / 64,070,139 USD (2019).
Punjab Masstransit Authority, Government of the Punjab – Official site.
Habib Construction Services [HCS].
Orange Line (Lahore Metro) – Wikipedia.
For the completed metro lines I’ve first converted local currencies into USD at the rate when the metro finished.
For example with Taipei when the metro opened on 28 March 1996, 1USD = 27.2350 TWD, where as at the time of this article 1USD = 30.4394 TWD. I’ve used historical exchange rates from OANDA.
With a US dollar amount established I then used usinflationcalculator.com to estimate what those 1996 dollars would be today.
The figures and calculations are ball-park figures for the sake of a general comparison.
The calculations for the average construction times is at least more precise. I went with the date of the first shovel in the ground to the date of the first public passengers. Some start dates were vague (ie October 2008) so I just went with the first day of the month. I used this days calculator to get a day figure.
Great post and selection of countries, thanks.
Antipodean Lurker says
This was really helpful in allowing comparisons. I live in Asia-Pacific, specifically Sydney, and wanted to compare the recent Northwest Sydney Metro, which had 23 km of new tracks, ~7km was repurposed from suburban rail. Cost was AUD$8.3b, which at current exchange rates is USD$5.68b. Exchange rate hasn’t been too unstable since 2013 but AUD has been in a long term decline against the USD, which would mean this cost would be higher in USD if you adjust over time, I wasn’t sure how to do that. Construction started 17 Dec 2012 or more likely after planning approval 11 April 2013, and opening day was 26 May 2019, 2236 days. This works out to $247m/km. Obviously the repurposing of 7 km costs something, so this is a bit of an overestimate of costs/km, but interesting that it is quite a lot higher than any of these cities.
James Clark says
I was thinking about Sydney when I wrote this as the new tram started in the same week. Also the Mandurah railway in WA often gets cited as being a good example of a “cheap” build, but that was in open space. Looks like Singapore is the standard by which to compare.
Yangbo Du says
Tried converting the cost estimates to purchasing power parity? It would make for more-accurate comparisons reflecting price levels and real incomes, especially considering monetary policies to keep currencies cheap for purposes of effectively subsidising exports.
For the record, I am providing research support to a group compiling case studies of transit construction around the world — happy to compare notes.
Lord Dima says
I don’t consider myself a transportation or metro fan, but I am a fan of SEA so this was kind of captivating to read, after using some of these on many occasions and getting an in-person tour of the mess in Saigon 🙂
Adam Roy says
Great post and selection of countries, thanks.
Abdur Rahman says
I want to know more about the cost comparison of various metros including Dhaka metro line -6 .