Ayala, SMC, MPC keen on P170-B ‘Bicol Express’
LEGAZPI CITY—The P170-billion South Line Railway project that seeks to revive and modernize the “Bicol Express” line under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme is up for grabs, according to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.
Salceda said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) was preparing to open the bidding for the South Line Railway project of the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
Salceda, in an e-mail statement Monday, said Ayala Corp., which would partner with Metro Pacific Corp. and San Miguel Corp. (SMC), had expressed interest in participating in the bidding for the multi-billion-peso South Line Railway, an over 600-km line from the PNR station in Tutuban, Manila to Matnog in Sorsogon, passing through Legazpi City.
Salceda said the modernization and rehabilitation of the PNR south line would cut by more than half the travel time from Manila to Legazpi, or from about 15 hours by bus to around six hours by train.
The DOTC, in a statement, said the construction of the South Line Railway was expected to start early next year, while its commercial operation had been set for 2020.
The project was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board of directors last February.
Salceda said that as chair of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Bicol, he followed up the project with the PPP Center, DOTC and Neda and participated in deliberations on the South Line Railway.
Earlier reports said Neda had started talks with Prime Orion Philippines Inc., which operates the railway mall in Tutuban, for the infrastructure requirement for the South Line project.
“The participation of the investors in this project is a welcome move, and I feel affirmed that this would be a viable investment,” according to Salceda.
The project will revive the 653-km PNR Manila-Legazpi “Bicol Express” line, a 1920s railway link that was discontinued in 2006 after Typhoon “Reming” damaged most of the aging tracks.
The Bicol Express line resumed in June 2011, but only up to Naga City in Camarines Sur. Operations were again suspended after less than a year following the derailment in Sariaya, Quezon, of a Bicol-bound train.
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