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Proposed Manila-Clark railway pushed

The state-run operator of Clark International Airport in Pampanga backed plans for new railway lines linking the gateway to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

Clark International Airport Corp. issued a statement Thursday saying it had made proposals calling for the construction of a railway system between Manila and Clark, as well as a line to  Northern Luzon and a cargo train line to Subic.

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Clark International Airport has historically struggled to lure traffic from Metro Manila, due to its distance from the capital district and the lack of efficient mass transit options.

CIAC president and CEO  Emigdio Tanjuatco III  noted in the statement that the North Luzon area had about 22 million people.

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He said a cargo rail would also spur economic activity between Clark and Subic.

Tanjuatco said that a railway system in Northern Luzon would also benefit overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East since most of them were residing in the North.

At present,  Clark Airport caters Middle East flights such as Qatar Airways’s flight to Doha and Emirates Airlines to Dubai.  Clark Airport also hosts other airlines like Cebu Pacific Airways , which flies from Clark to Mactan-Cebu International Airport four times a week.

A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency earlier pointed to continued growth for Clark.

“While Naia’s capacity is getting saturated, the functions of the two gateway airports of Naia and Clark  should be urgently strengthened and integrated by clarifying their roles and improving access to and between these airports,” Jica and the National Economic and Development Authority noted in a report.

The report showed that Clark Airport’s traffic would reach about 2.6 million passengers by 2020 and more than triple to 9.2 million by 2040.

“[Clark] will serve the Metropolitan Clark and Northern Luzon area, which is expected to grow as an independent significant regional center as well as an alternative to New Naia,” noted Jica and Neda.

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Clark airport also hosts other airlines like Asiana Airlines (Incheon, South Korea), Jin Air (Incheon and Busan, South Korea), Cathay Pacific/Dragonair (Hong Kong) and Tiger Air (Singapore).

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