DOTr seeks China funding for PNR south Line


MANILA — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) plans to tap a loan from the Chinese government to build a railway project linking Manila to Bicol province, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

The planned connection, once part of the Public Private Partnership pipeline before the shift to overseas development assistance funding, will be done via a massive southern railway project split into separate components by the Philippine National Railways.

The South Long Haul project, a P151-billion train line that spans 581 kilometres, will run through Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Alabay and Sorsogon.

There will also be a short-haul component, called the PNR South Commuter. The government’s “build build build” online infrastructure portal identified this as a P134-billion train line that would span 72
kilometers and link Manila and Los Baños, Laguna.

Tugade said they were targeting loan deals from China to fund those projects.

“We would like to have partnership with countries using their own technologies,” Tugade told reporters on Monday at the sidelines of a station marking event for the PNR’s P255-billion Manila to Clark Railway project.

“It stands with rhyme and reason that we spread out the market,” Tugade added.

In line with this, the DOTr is tapping the Japan International Cooperation Agency for its Manila-Clark train project, which it hopes to complete before the end of 2021.

The project will span 106 kilometers and will have stations in Tutuban (Manila), Solis, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, Malolos, Calumpit,  Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, Clark International Airport, and the proposed New Clark City.

A railway line to Clark would also bolster passenger traffic at the Clark International Airport, still significantly under-utlized despite its strategic location as an alternative to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino
International Airport, which is suffering from congestion issues.

The Philippine government and JICA already signed an almost $2-billion loan agreement for the Tutuban to Malolos stretch in 2015.

On Monday, the DOTr held a ceremonial marking event for five stations of the Manila-Clark railway line. The stations are  Marilao and Meycauayan in Bulacan, Valenzuela, Caloocan, and Tutuban.

JICA chief representative Susumu Ito said the project would “boost connectivity of emerging growth centers to Metro Manila and improve the mobility of the Filipino commuters.”

“Once completed, it can help address traffic congestion and improve the quality of life of people living and working in urban areas in Metro Manila,” he said.

The DOTr said the Manila-Clark railway would cut the usual two-hour trip to 55 minutes. The government  expects the project to cater to an initial 350,000 passengers per day.

This project is expected to start construction by the end of 2017. The whole line will have 13 train sets with eight cars or coaches per train set. Each train can reach a maximum speed of 120 km per hour.  SFM

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