Central America's first metro to run in Panama by the year's end

PANAMA CITY (AFP) - Central America's first metro system will start service in Panama at the end of 2013, President Ricardo Martinelli said on Friday during a test run.

Several lines are planned for Panama City, known for its congested and chaotic roads that connect to the suburbs.

The President and most of his Cabinet went for a 2km ride, driving the train at times.

French company Alstrom is responsible for building the trains, as part of a consortium with Brazilian company Odebrecht and Spanish firm FCC.

An estimated 1.5 million people will use the system.

The cost of the capital city's first line is estimated at US$1.8 billion (S$2.3 billion).