NorthRail project delayed anew

DoTC holds off talks with Beijing


MANILA, Philippines—The controversial NorthRail project faces more delays after the government has decided to hold off any negotiations with the contract’s Chinese proponents due to the prevailing political landscape in Beijing.

To insulate the Philippines from any sudden policy shifts in Beijing, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) said it would postpone discussions until China’s leadership change is completed.

DoTC Secretary Manuel Roxas II said newly installed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing wanted to schedule a trip to Beijing in the middle of the year.

“We had a very productive talk, and they are trying to schedule a visit to China. We wanted to find out the next steps for the project,” Roxas said. “But the fact is, the Chinese leadership is going through changes. They want to meet with us earlier but we don’t want our projects to be disrupted because of that.”

Late last year, the DoTC submitted major revisions to the NorthRail project. Under the proposed new contract, the Philippine government will write the terms of reference to ensure that the contractor has the capability and track record to carry out the rail project.

The new project will contain an entirely new train section that will connect the Makati central business district to Caloocan, a 12-kilometer distance. The second phase will link Mabalacat in Pampanga to Clark airport, another 15-kilometer distance.

The project, to be funded with a concessional loan from the Chinese Export Import Credit Agency, involves the construction of a train line connecting Metro Manila to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and other provinces in Northern Luzon for $1.2 billion.

But construction has been delayed. The deadline to complete the first phase was moved from 2007 to 2013, and the total cost estimate has ballooned to $1.8 billion.

The DoTC likewise noted that the project’s Chinese contractor, Sinomach, had asked for more money for construction, despite the reduction of the project’s scale.

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  • bong

    What is this DOTC Mar Roxas?  We want tangible results and not press releases.

  • asdafaa qwesda

    Why are we putting up with these corrupt chinese a-holes!? If contractors keep raising the price mid project get a new contractor! Obviously the existing one is too incompetent to give you a good estimate probably because they lack the experience and expertise.

  • W Q

    scrap the project, it is costly, it doesnt make sense..
    if Clark was a developed city and a tourist destination, it would make sense to put a high speed train going there. only those who are from northern luzon wants this to happen. the question is if u put a high speed train going to clark and who will ride it? it will be expensive to ride on and since it’s all budget airlines landing there. the would be passengers would not be willing to pay full fare price as a result subsidize na naman ng govt ung fare. gumastos na ng 2B USD magaabuno pa ng pamasahe ang govt..hello?

  • Steady Ready

    mar roxas is committing political suicide with what he’s doing….first of the NAIA terminal fee raising it up back to P750 and second this delaying of this NorthRail infrastructure. sigurado ako talo kana sa Bulacan at Pampanga sa 2013/2016.

  • Sir Jopz

    From $1.2B to $1.8, it is funnier in the philippines ! May pondo na para sa 2013 and 2016 elections…galing talaga ng “tuwid na daan”

  • Anonymous

    This government needs to stop making excuses for not allowing progress in the country. How stupid do they think people are? If unwilling to deal with China, then go to Japan or other countries for investments and contractors to build the rail system. Get off your collective butts and get it done!

  • Anonymous

    The Govt can prefund the initial investment to get the North Rail off the planning stage and into the construction phase and deal with the contractor later , we got over 77B USD in reserves.
    The Philippines should start creating their own destiny and face its own unique challenges. The Admin must show some governance and not be preoccupied with excuses.
    Off the hat, the Govt can also offer “Railway Bonds” and have the Investing public participate in the infrastructure sector. a 10 year bond paying current interest rate + 2 to 3% (risk premium) redeemable every year should get this project off the ground. (This is without cost to the govt)and if the much ballyhooed Chinese loans comes in, then, the bonds can be redeemed using the loans. The goal is to get the project going with all the means necessary available at the disposal of the govt.
    Alternatively, Northrail , a bidding can also be carried out. The options are actually unlimited.
    An here we are lending money to the IMF to the tune of 500M USD . go figure

  • Anonymous

    hehehe … no accomplishment naman tayo …

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