It had been scheduled for a late 2021 start.
The HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) said in a report to the city government that the elevated section from the Binh Thai intersection to the Long Binh depot in Thu Duc City's District 9 is expected to be trialed in the fourth quarter of this year before a test of the entire line is done.
It said meanwhile it would speed up other key tasks such as training and technology transfer.
As of last year only 82 percent of the work had been completed against a targeted 85 percent.
MAUR said progress was delayed last year as Japanese and European engineers who are installing the tracks were unable to enter Vietnam after international flights were suspended due to the pandemic.
Vietnam closed its borders and suspended all international flights in March 2020.
Besides, train cars originally scheduled to be delivered in April last year arrived only in October.
Purchase and shipments of other equipment from abroad was also affected, MAUR said.
The 19.7-km metro route No.1 from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to Suoi Tien theme park in District 9 will have 17 Japanese-made trains.
Being built at a cost of VND43.7 trillion ($1.89 billion), it will have 14 stations, three underground and 11 on the surface, some elevated.
MAUR also provided updates on the other planned metro routes. Line 2, running from Ben Thanh Market to Tham Luong in District 12, will see land acquisition completed and bidding for the main construction work begin this year and contracts awarded by next year.
Feasibility reports and project proposals for routes 5 from Bay Hien intersection to the Saigon Bridge and 3A from Ben Thanh Market to Tan Kien Ward in Binh Chanh District will be completed this year and submitted to the National Assembly for approval.
The country's biggest city, with a population of 13 million, has been struggling with traffic congestion for years. The number of personal vehicles has exploded with 825,000 automobiles and 8.12 million motorbikes on the roads now, while public transport is woefully underdeveloped.
It plans to build eight metro lines running a total 220 km.
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