Line 3 of the Panama metro system will be 34km-long. Credit: Hitachi Rail.
Panama metro line 3 will be served by 28 trainsets fitted in six-car configuration. Credit: Hitachi Rail.
The metro project is backed by funding support worth $2.6bn from Japan. Credit: El Metro de Panamá.

Panama metro line 3 is a 34km-long monorail line being developed as part of the Panama metro project. It will be the largest project in the country since the expansion of the Panama Canal.

The line will establish a connection between the province of Panama Oeste and the province of Panama, reducing the average travel time by half, from 90 minutes to 45 minutes. The monorail system will be the first to use Japanese technology in the Americas.

The first phase of the project will connect Albrook to the Ciudad del Futuro sector, while the second phase will extend up to La Chorrera.

The line is expected to serve 20,000 passengers in each direction during peak hours with a four-minute interval between trains, while phase two is expected to serve approximately 32,000 commuters by 2050.

Panama Metro line three construction will create more than 5,000 jobs, including 800 local jobs during its development. Expected to begin operations in mid-2025, the line will benefit more than 500,000 residents of the Panama Oeste province.

Panama Metro Line 3 details

Phase one of Panama metro line 3 will be a 25km elevated monorail line, which will reduce downtown congestion and improve transport links across the region’s steep mountainous terrain.

The line will depart from Albrook Station on metro line 1 and run through Arraijan, continuing through the Pan-American road with a few stops in between, before terminating at the Ciudad del Futuro station. The phase one will also include the construction of maintenance and storage facilities at Ciudad del Futuro.

The line will pass through a tunnel constructed underneath the Panama Canal. Set to become the first such beneath the canal, the 4km-long tunnel will have a diameter of 13m and will be situated at a depth of more than 50m. The first phase of the new elevated double-track monorail project will include 14 stations.

Each train will divide the operation of the line into two circuits, the east circuit for the 17.5km-long Albrook-Nuevo Chorrillo route and the complete circuit for the 25.85km-long Albrook-Ciudad del Futuro route.

Other developments will include the construction of pedestrian facilities and improvements to meeting areas around the stations.

Rolling stock

Rolling stock for the Panama Metro line three will include 28 trainsets of six cars each offering a passenger capacity of 1,000 a train. The train will be a large, straddle type of monorail constructed using an aluminium alloy.

Hitachi’s B-CHOP (Energy Storage for Traction Power Supply) system will be incorporated to harness the train’s regenerative energy. It will substantially reduce the energy consumption of the entire rail system by producing regenerative energy while the train is in braking mode. It will cut CO2 emissions as well as provide energy for future use.

The trains will have automatic control systems to prevent collisions, along with a surveillance and security system.

Financing for the Panama Metro line three

The governments of Panama and Japan signed a funding agreement worth $2.6bn in April 2016 to support the construction of the new metro line.

The agreement also includes a non-refundable technical co-operation of up to $350,000 to hire a project manager.

The funding was arranged by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on behalf of the Government of Japan. The loan has a 20-year term with 14 years of amortisation, six years of grace period, and three years for disbursement.

Contractors involved

The HPH consortium comprising Hyundai Engineering and Construction, POSCO, and Hyundai Engineering was appointed as the main contractor for the project in October 2020.

Hitachi and Mitsubishi are sub-contractors, responsible for providing the rolling stock and the integrated operations system.

Hitachi, Hitachi Rail and Mitsubishi signed a $883m contract with the HPH consortium in October 2020. Hitachi and Hitachi Rail will supply the control centre, electrical power systems, signalling systems, telecommunications systems, platform gates and yard equipment for the monorail, while Mitsubishi will manage administrative matters.

Nippon Koei and its subsidiary Tonichi Engineering Consultants will provide project management services.

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