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Panama - Rail Travel
The Canal Railway Company now runs both freight and passenger trains, although it is mainly used by tourists who visit the region and some commuters. There is one train for passengers which leaves Panama City at 7.15 am each day during the week. This arrives in Colon at 8.15 am. The return train leaves Colon at 5.15 pm and arrives back in Panama City at 6.15 pm. Passengers can board the train at the recently constructed station located in the Allbrook suburb in the northern part of Panama City. The older station is now defunct and has been converted into a fast food restaurant. The train only runs once in each direction each day, so passengers that miss it may find themselves stranded.
The train offers excellent facilities including first class executive coaches, air conditioning and refreshments. The seats are made from leather and offer passengers plenty of room to relax. There are lamp-lighted compartments and for those who want to take in the views there are some viewing decks which are open air. The trains are accessible for some passengers who have mobility problems and assistance can be provided if needed, although it is a good idea to contact the company in advance with details to find out exactly how they can help. Contact details can be obtained from the company’s website.
There are a variety of ticket prices and options. Children under 2 do not need to have a ticket and those between the ages of 2 and 12 can have a heavily discounted ticket. Those wishing to use the railway for just one journey will find it cost effective to buy a one-way ticket for the journey out and the journey home. Those who need to use the railway on a regular basis will find it offers value for money to buy a monthly pass. This gives them a reserved seat and they can use the train whenever they need to. Those who are buying tickets on the day will not have a reserved seat.
There are currently plans to construct another railway system in Panama City, but this time it is a metro underground system. Due to the growth of the capital city, there is a need to ease the increasing traffic problems in the area after it was estimated that up to 4000 new cars find their way onto the capital’s streets each month. It is estimated that up to 40,000 passengers per hour will be able to use the new Metro system. The new underground system will operate between 4.30 am and midnight every day of the week and will be concentrated on the bigger problem areas in the city.
The metro is expected to help to change the face of the city, with metro station locations encouraging people to live close by and businesses to establish themselves where they can be easily reached by public transport. It is also expected that the poorer areas which are served by the metro will undergo regeneration, providing good investment opportunities.
The plans are for the metro to cover 14 kilometres and have 16 stations which begin at the National Bus Terminal in Albrook. The first leg of the journey will be overland until the line reaches the complex of government offices in Curundu where it will then head underground until it reaches Via Fernandez de Cordoba, when it goes overland again to Los Andes. The metro is expected to be able to fulfil public transport needs along this route until the year 2035.
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