Construction on the first metro in Central America began in Panama City Monday, a 1.6 billion dollar project that will open to riders in 2014.

Today we are beginning construction of line one of the Panama metro, Metro General Secretary Roberto Roy told AFP.

The subway - the ninth in Latin America but the first in Central America - is being built by an international consortium that includes France's Alstom, Brazil's Norberto Odebrecht and Spain's Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas. Alstom will design and build the trains and electro-mechanical systems for the metro.

Roy said the system will open with an initial capacity of 15,000 passengers an hour in each direction with more being added over a period of years to peak at 40,000 passengers.

The dig begins in Panama City's historic Cinco de Mayo Plaza where the first station will be built. Pipes, posts and other obstacles were being removed to clear the ground for the station, Roy said.

Source: The Independent