PH, Russia ties could revive North Luzon railway
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is reviving a plan to rebuild Luzon’s northern railway network, which would link Manila to Tarlac, La Union and then Cagayan.
This was revealed Tuesday by the DOTr, which held bilateral talks with counterparts from Russia during the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
Transport Assistant Secretary Leah Quiambao said the country and Russia were exploring cooperation on several areas. These included a possible grant from Russia to finance a study on the “Northern Luzon railway corridor,” or areas to the north beyond New Clark City in Pampanga.
“Russia is expected to bring with it its development experience, gained in the course of building its 86,000 kilometers of mainline and 60,000 km of secondary railway lines,” Quiambao said. Definite commitments have yet to be signed.
The DOTr said the planned Manila-Clark railway line would be extended to San Fernando, La Union; Tarlac and Tuguegarao. It said the Japan-funded P316-billion Manila-Clark railway line, to be done in two phases, would start construction by the end of 2017 or early 2018.
The Northern Luzon railway corridor was last referenced by the department in an August 2015 project brief for the North-South Railway project, which was then part of the Public Private Partnership pipeline.
That project involved a long-haul line from Manila to San Fernando spanning 266 km, an extension from San Jose City in Nueva Ecija to Cagayan province, and a 55-km branch line from Tarlac province to San Jose City.
This was in line with reviving a once robust Luzon railway system that in the 1970s spanned 900 km linking La Union province in the north to Legazpi City in the Bicol region in the south.
Railway projects in the Philippines are limited to Luzon, with active lines comprised of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3, Light Rail Transit Line 1, LRT-2, and the Philippine National Railways network in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Currently being built are the extension of LRT-1 to Cavite province and the MRT-7 from Quezon City to Bulacan province.
The Duterte administration also said it would pursue a Japan-funded P360-billion Metro Manila subway project, which would link Quezon City and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.