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Transport chief vows train line to Clark

/ 12:22 AM July 21, 2016

The Department of Transportation vowed to build a passenger train line linking Metro Manila and the Clark freeport zone in Pampanga, where the alternative gateway Clark International Airport is located.

The plan, among the campaign promises of President Duterte, forms part of a massive effort to increase connectivity and cut road and air congestion via mass railway systems, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said. He also disclosed plans for a dedicated cargo railway line between Subic and Clark.

Tugade, a guest speaker at an event late Tuesday organized by the World Trade Center Metro Manila, said the train line would connect Clark to Metro Manila either in the Trinoma Shopping Mall in Quezon City or the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.

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He said he would also insist on a so-called standard gauge railway instead of the less expensive narrow-gauge, saying the former could run faster.

Tugade said plans would still need to be studied by the National Economic and Development Authority, but it was the government’s intention to move swiftly. Tugade said his department would formalize plans within 90 days.

“The train will be there,” Tugade said.

Clark International Airport, despite excess capacity, has struggled to lure passengers due to the lack of mass transit options. By contrast, Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where expansion options are limited, is operating beyond its intended capacity.

Tugade said reforms were also being planned in the cargo sector. He said the government would  pursue a dedicated cargo line between Subic, which operates an international seaport, and Clark. As part of a longer term goal, Tugade said all freight vehicles would travel around the country only via railway and roll-on/roll-off, or Ro-Ro, shipping systems, helping decongest roads.

The need for railway systems has been identified under previous administrations. The difficulty has been getting these projects off the ground, typically due to their complexity, high-cost and right-of-way issues.

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TAGS: Arthur Tugade, Business, Clark Freeport Zone, Department of Transportation, economy, Metro Manila, News, Pampanga
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