An international consortium has won the $1.45-billion contract to construct the first metro train line for Panama City, Panama. The Consorio L�nea Uno consists of Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC), Brazil’s Odebrecht and France’s Alstom , which will supply the trains for the project. Work is scheduled to start in January.

When completed in 2013, the Metro Line 1 will cover a 14-kilometer north-south route across the Panamanian capital, with a 7-km underground stretch. The trains will be powered by a third-rail source using direct current at 750 volts. According to the Panama City Metro Secretariat, the finished Metro will have the capacity to carry 40,000 passengers an hour.

Consorio L�nea Uno’s bid was $143 million less than the Panamanian government’s projected cost but slightly more than the $1.4-billion offer presented by an Italian consortium, Grupo Italiano Metro Panam�. Panamanian officials awarded the job to Consorio L�nea Uno after evaluating technical merit as well as total cost. A third group that qualified to bid on the work declined to present an offer.

FCC is also part of a consortium that won a key contract with the Panama Canal Third Lane Expansion, which is a $268-million job to excavate 26 million cubic meters of material and connect the massive new locks to the waterway’s main navigation channel.