The Republic of Panama President Ricardo Martinelli has inaugurated the new 15.9km-long Panama Metro Line 1 that connect Albrook national bus station in the north to San Isidro station in the south.

Delivered by French transport group Alstom, the Panama Metro forms a part of the Alstom Metropolis range and is the first metro system with 14 stations in Central America.

The line will run from the Grand National Transport Terminal in Albrook to the Los Andes shopping centre, in the town of San Miguelito, and is expected to directly benefit nearly one million people.

Construction of the $1.8bn Panama Metro began in November 2010.

"The new metro will help reduce the increasing traffic congestion in the city, with an estimated capacity to carry 15,000 people an hour in 2014, which will rise to 40,000 people an hour by 2035."

The new metro will help reduce the increasing traffic congestion in the city, with an estimated capacity to carry 15,000 people an hour in 2014, which will rise to 40,000 people an hour by 2035.

Alstom supplied a fleet of 57 metro cars and the communication-based train control (CBTC) system for the project, as well as engineering, installation and integration services.

It offers two CBTC system solutions including Urbalis 400 and Urbalis Fluence.

The Urbalis 400 provides high transport capacity and high availability for interlocking systems, while Urbalis Fluence offers optimum train-centric architecture and higher operational availability with extreme flexibility of train movements.

Manufactured on Santa Perpetua site, near Barcelona in Spain, 19 trainsets were shipped across the Mediterranean, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, before arriving in Panama Canal.

Alstom has also completed testing on the metro that commenced in October 2013.

Besides Alstom, the consortium includes FCC and Brazilian company Norberto Odebrecht.

In addition, the city of Panama has announced plans to launch a tender for the construction of a second metro line.

FCC consortium is expected to be responsible for the development of the proposed metro line extension.