Gov’t urged to hasten building of common railway station
Thirteen of the country’s biggest foreign and local business groups have urged the government to fast-track completion of the common train station to link three major rail commuter lines in the metropolis, a much-awaited transport infrastructure now derailed by prolonged discussions in Congress.
After feuding parties have struck a compromise deal on where the common station would be built, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez questioned the contract, alleging it would be “disadvantageous” to government because of its lofty price. He also lamented prescribed penalties on the government for every delay on the construction of the common station.
“We urge the expeditious completion of the common train station to link the LRT1, MRT3 and the ongoing MRT7 rail commuter lines in a location that will conveniently serve the expected 1.5 million commuters,” said the joint statement issued by the business groups.
“The common station impasse must be finally solved. Now that all stakeholders from the public and private sectors have agreed on a solution, all remaining hindrances must be quickly set aside to clear the way for its speedy execution,” they added.
The signatories to the collective statement were the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM), Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (ANZCHAM), Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CANCHAM); European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), Japanese Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (JCCP), Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (KCCP), Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc. (PAMURI), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI).
The group threw their full support to the memorandum of agreement executed among the train operators of LRT1, MRT2 and MRT7 and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) agreeing to the intersection of EDSA and North Avenue in Quezon City as the location of the common train station. Property developers Ayala Land Inc. and SM Prime Holdings have also accepted the compromise deal after an eight year tug-of-war.
“The agreement is most laudable as it represents an important breakthrough of the almost decade-long impasse in the construction of a vital mass transportation hub in Metro Manila and coming so soon after the Duterte administration took over,” the joint statement said.
“The grand train station will finally close the missing link between the heavily used MRT3 and LRT1 as well as incorporate them with the recently approved MRT7, whose construction is ongoing. This hub will serve and be for the common benefit of the over a million daily commuters in the three train lines. Transfer from one line to another will become convenient and in a more pleasant environment,” it added.
The design for the common station in North Avenue calls for a much larger and more spacious station with a total floor area of 13,700 square meters compared to 7,200 square meters in the original 2009 plan. It will accommodate three train lines, including the MRT7, compared to just two lines in the original plan. It will also provide double tracks to both LRT1 and MRT3 for reliability and efficiency of their operations.
Because of the improved features, the collective said that “necessarily, the new design will cost more.”
The business groups also agreed that the grand common station that would serve commuters in all train lines – LRT1, MRT3 and MRT7 – must be undertaken by the government through the DOTr, except for the respective areas assigned to the private stakeholders and concessionaires.
“The government, by undertaking the common station and underwriting its cost, would facilitate the implementation of this long delayed project. By doing so, it would be a judicious investment of taxpayer funds on a vital mass transportation facility to serve train commuters,” they said.
“Going forward, we trust the project will be undertaken with transparency and adherence to required bidding rules and procedures to secure the most qualified contractor and best possible cost.”
The group also recommend the use of faster and less traffic-disruptive construction method, such as pre-cast concrete sections for the viaduct as used in similar projects abroad.
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