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Unsolicited proposals for rail projects sought

Agency bids P1.03-B MRT3 system upgrade

The Department of Transportation is now accepting unsolicited proposals for ambitious new railway projects, including a so-called Mindanao rail project.

DOTr spokesperson Cherie Mercado told reporters in a briefing Tuesday that new rail and mass transit projects, including a Panay railway system and the Davao and Cebu transit systems, remained priority projects for this administration.

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The projects were underscored by President Duterte in his first State of the Nation address on Monday. Specific details, however, were not provided.

“Those are [some] of the projects being studied now,” Mercado said in a briefing. “We are letting them [the private sector] know that these are projects the department will pursue and will definitely bid out.”

She said other options included tapping the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme to help augment the massive spending as the government sought to deliver badly needed infrastructure and public services.

The agency is also inviting groups to bid for a P1.03-billion upgrade of the ancillary systems for the busy Metro Rail Transit Line 3 as newly ordered train coaches are being delivered.

The upgrade mainly involves the train line’s traction power substation, overhead centenary system and depot facilities, the construction of the North Avenue turnback and Taft pocket track extension, the department said in a published notice.

“The design and build project entails the upgrade of the MRT-3 ancillary systems to effectively integrate the 48 brand new train coaches purchased for the MRT-3 system,” a portion of the notice read.

The transportation department, under the previous administration, ordered the train coaches from China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. Delivery started early this year and would be completed in early 2017.

Based on the notice, the bid documents were issued starting Tuesday. The deadline for submission  and opening of bids was set on Sept. 1, 2016.

There have been previous studies for a Mindanao rail project although it never materialized amid questions over its viability. The railway line was envisioned to link Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga City, Butuan, Surigao, Davao and General Santos.

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The revival of the Panay railway project comes after the train line from Iloilo City to Capiz ended operations in the 1980s.

Duterte, in his nationwide address, also cited a plan to finally pursue a Pasig River ferry service system.

He said this could cut road congestion in Metro Manila and would serve as an “alternative” means to transport people in Manila, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Taguig, Marikina and Quezon City.

The North-South Luzon railway project will also be pursued, Duterte said.

Started during the Aquino administration was a 38-kilometer elevated commuter train line from Tutuban in Manila  to Malolos, Bulacan, being funded via a loan deal with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

The other part was the P171-billion South Line of the north-south railway project, which includes a long-haul line from Manila to Legazpi City, Albay. This was among the PPP deals left hanging by the previous administration.

The PPP deal, which involves 653 kilometers of railway lines, is expected to be operational by 2020. The winner of the deal will operate, maintain and upgrade the line over a period of 34 years. It is expected to yield a demand of 316,000 passengers a day on its opening year and is projected to entice around 44,000 public and private vehicle users to shift their commutes to the modernized railway.

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