Hanoi has two metro lines under construction, and when completed they will be the first urban railways in Vietnam. Both lines were due to be open by now, but there have been years of delays that have kept the lines from opening.
It’s been a frustrating wait for Hanoians (and regular visitors like myself) to continually read news of further delays. Such delays though on first lines are not unprecedented. I made a comparison of cost and construction times of first metro lines in Asia, and Hanoi is by no means the slowest.
At the start of 2020 it was optimistically proclaimed that the first two metro lines would be open by the end of the year. Little did we know on the first of January what a dumpster fire 2020 would turn out to be. The test runs of the first metro were delayed when key workers from France and China were unable to return due to the coronavirus, and we are yet to see how the virus will influence the economy and funding for future lines.
Still, we are just over halfway through the year and there is hope that Line 2A will open by the end of 2020.
Line 2A is one of 9 planned metro lines and 3 monorail lines that will cover a 417km network by 2050.
I visited Hanoi in July 2020, and this post is a snapshot of the state of the metro as of July 2020. Rather than post a detailed list of every planned metro (as I have done with the HCMC Metro), this is more of an annual report of developments that have happened over the last year.
Hanoi Metro maps
I’ve added some maps here to refer to when reading about the lines.
The Hanoi Metro website has a map of the complete proposed network. It’s a small map (this is the actual size) so it’s a bit hard to read.
[Proposed Hanoi metro system map at hanoimetro.net.vn.]
The most useful map so far has been this system map created by Dao Manh Son.
I’ve made a Google Map showing the stations of the lines under construction, and the map includes other stations mentioned in this article.
[Map of Hanoi Metro.]
Line 2A runs from Cat Linh to Yen Nghia, with 12 stations coving 13.1km above ground. Cat Linh station is an impressive structure, befitting of an above ground terminal station in the city centre.
The one thing that I have wondered about while studying the map of Hanoi has been if 2A can be extended further north. As you can see from the station design, there is no provision to extend the line further from this terminus. The roads also get narrower from this point, and I presume that the metro authority are not going to contemplate disturbing the area around Ba Dinh Square and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
An airport bus waiting outside the station.
Behind Cat Linh is Hao Nam Lake. The line uses this lake to make for a bigger terminal building off the road.
La Thanh Station.
La Thanh Station.
From La Thanh the metro line then crosses Dong Da Lake, which is used as a shortcut instead of following the route of the road.
The elevated metro as seen running down the middle of Yen Lang Road.
Thai Ha station.
As the name would suggest, the station is at the intersection of Thai Ha Road.
The one thing that has baffled me about this line is name of 2A. As a completely new system why not just give every line its own number. I thought it might have been temporary designated construction code, but the signage here shows it is indeed Line 2A.
Line 3 begins (or ends) at Ga Ha Noi, the main train station of Hanoi. It’s an underground station, but there is evidence of the metro being built opposite the station on Tran Hung Dau. Eventually Line 1 will also junction here, which will connect to other overland railway stations in Hanoi. This will make Ga Ha Noi a truly useful travel hub. Now if only they could get started on the high-speed railway to Ho Chi Minh City.
The next station (Station 11) is Van Mieu.
The station is next to Van Mieu (Temple Of Literature), making it a useful stop for visitors.
The next station is Cat Linh – the first interchange station between two lines on the Hanoi Metro system. The underground station work site is in front of the Pullman Hotel.
Line 3 is underground while Line 2A is above ground. From this angle you can see how far apart the stations are.
A plan at the worksite shows how the two stations will interchange.
Kim Ma is the next station to the west.
This area has become a modern business district, and the station is near the newly-completed Capital Place Complex. On the other side of the interchange is the 267-metre Lotte Center Hanoi. This is a terrible intersection to cross by foot, so the area would benefit from pedestrian sky bridges or underground walkways to connect the station to the Lotte tower.
After Kim Ma the line then emerges above ground.
The above ground section goes by Thu Le Lake.
Line 3 at Kim Ma Road, with Lotte Center Hanoi in the background.
Cau Giay (Station 8) is the first station above ground.
There were workers on site when I visited.
A pedestrian bridge to connect the station was being installed.
This elevated section of the metro line passes an elevated roadway, so there is a high bridge over this intersection.
The elevated railway along Cau Giay.
Chua Ha station.
The station is mostly finished, with some construction mess still about the station when I visited.
Following the line you can see how clusters of highrises are forming around each station in anticipation of the new line.
Next to Chua Ha are the FLC Twin Towers. FLC Group are the owners of Bamboo Airways, and one of the towers is the Bamboo Airways corporate HQ.
Elevated section on Cau Giay.
In planning / approved
Phase 1 of Line 1 is the 15.4km section from Ngoc Hoi to Gia Lam. Bidding for construction contracts was restarted in 2018 after the short-list results from 2013 were scrapped. There have not been any updates since.
As a visitor to Hanoi you would be forgiven for not knowing a metro exists if you only spend your time in the old city. The first two lines will be of little use for for the average tourist.
Line 2 however will be a useful line for visitors, connecting the airport to the Hoan Kiem Lake area. The line would then continue to meet Line 2A at Thuong Dinh Station
The first stage doesn’t include the airport, so it will be years before there is an airport train. In fact the first stage is already years behind, so who knows when the airport will be connected to the metro.
The first section of Line 2 is now 12 years late, and the cost has nearly doubled from the original estimate. At the end of 2019 Hanoi wanted to borrow $1.32 billion to finance the 11.5km section of Line 2.
One of the delays has been due to a dispute of the route though the old city. Line 2 travels underground along the eastern side of Hoan Kiem Lake. There were concerns that Hoan Kiem station (C9) would damage historic sites and spoil the ambiance of the area.
[Hoan Kiem C9 Station.]
The underground station has four planned entrance and exits: EVN Hanoi, EVN Northern Power Corp on Tran Nguyen Han Street, next to Hoan Kiem Lake, behind Ba Kieu Temple on the bank of the lake.
The station was finally approved in 2019, so hopefully work can get started soon on this crucial line.
In addition to the approved route, authorities are also considering extending the line 9km from Noi Bai Airport to Soc Son in the northern outskirts of the city.
Line 2A (extension)
A proposed extension of Line 2A would take it to Xuan Mai Town, southwest of Hanoi.
Line 3 (extensions)
Line 3 will be extended from Hanoi Railway Station to Hoang Mai district. The 8.7km line is expected to begin construction in 2021.
The line is also being consider to be extended further west to Son Tay.
On April 22 2020 the Party Committee of Hanoi approved Line No 5 from Van Cao to Hoa Lac.
Hanoi Metro 2021
I plan to make these construction reports for metros and cities an annual post (if not by me then by other writers). Lets see if my 2021 Hanoi Metro construction report includes me riding on the new 2A metro.