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Palace wants high-speed, not bullet train for Clark

/ 01:06 AM October 06, 2014

CLARK FREEPORT—President Benigno Aquino III and members of the Cabinet cluster for airport strategy wanted a high-speed train in this economic zone, not a bullet train as an official of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) claimed, according to the president of the state-owned Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC).

“We have to correct that. The Cabinet cluster wants a high-speed train that runs at 120 kilometers per hour (kph), which can connect Clark either to the Makati business district or Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in an hour,” said Victor Jose Luciano, CIAC president and chief executive officer.

In an interview at the Clark International Airport (CRK) here last week, Luciano said he remembered that the President did not mention a bullet train during the Aug. 19 meeting.

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“I don’t know where [Jica executives] got their information about a bullet train. Operating one along the [Philippine National Railway] tracks would send roof and other things flying,” Luciano said.

An Inquirer report quoted Dr. Shizuo Iwata, chair of Japan’s Almec Corp., as saying that a bullet train costing $7 billion was “very expensive.”

Iwata said a more conventional railway would be more feasible in addressing demand from commuters.

Luciano said a train running at 120 kph would not cost as much as a bullet train.

“Abroad, international airports are apart from main cities by an hour, which is not a long yardstick,” Luciano said. “The intention of the administration is a high-speed train and that is what the feasibility study is determining.”

Renato Romero, vice president of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said whether it is a bullet train or not, the infrastructure is “necessary and a welcome” development.

“The cost is not an issue as long as it will spur development in [areas] north of Manila. This should be part of the program to decongest Metro Manila. It is now high time for the national government to embark on this ambitious major infrastructure to catch up with the development,” Romero said.

“Our country is lagging behind our Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors because we stopped putting up the necessary infrastructure such as trains. We didn’t look beyond our needs. We are not building infrastructure for the future. What is being done by our government is always catching up with the development,” he added.

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