Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam is drawing up plans for the construction of a US$2bn underground metro that could start by 2005.

Vo Kim Cuong, deputy director of the city’s architecture office, said design work has started and local and foreign investors are being sought.

He said: "We have not finalised the details yet. However, if investors find our ideas attractive we can work with them to speed up (the) preparation (process) so construction can start soon."

He added: "We are calling for foreign investors to come and study this project."

But industry experts have questioned whether an underground metro is feasible, They point out that Ho Chi Minh City borders the Saigon river, which is also part of the Mekong River delta. As a result, they say the water table might be too high and the ground too soft to support a major underground rail network.