DOTr sets bidding for Manila-Bulacan railway link
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is moving forward with the selection of a Japanese contractor that will build a 38-kilometer railway line from Manila to Malolos, Bulacan, according to a senior government official.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a recent Senate hearing the department was expecting to hold the bidding exercise for the civil works component of the railway project, to be funded by a loan from the Japanese government, before the end of 2018.
“It is targeted to be completed in two and a half to three years,” Tugade said.
The project, also known as the Philippine National Railways North 1 under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure initiative, is the first phase of a 106-km railway system that will connect Manila and Clark, Pampanga. The entire project will cost above P300 billion, funded mainly by loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The project is expected to cut travel time from Malolos to Tutuban in Manila to around 35 minutes from the current two hours. The Philippines and Jica signed the 242-billion yen (P117 billion) loan for the Manila to Bulacan stretch in 2015.
Tugade said the whole railway system from Manila to Clark, where the government is also expanding Clark International Airport, would be completed before President Duterte’s term ends in 2022.
The second phase of the project will involve a 69.5-km train system extending PNR North 1 in Bulacan to Clark Airport and New Clark City. Once finished, travel time from Manila to Clark would be cut down to less than one hour.
The DOTr is also planning a cargo railway system that will link Subic Port to Clark, according to Tugade.
The DOTr has made the railway sector a priority area as it committed to implement a P1-trillion pipeline of projects, most of which will be financed by overseas development assistance loans. The goal is to extend the Philippines’ railway footprint to over 2,000 km from the current 77 km.
One of the administration’s legacy projects include the P350-billion Metro Manila subway, which will run from Quezon City to Taguig, with a further connection to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Chinese funding is also being sought for the 653-km railway line that will run from Manila to Batangas, Laguna and Matnog, Sorsogon.
Its single largest project is the 1,532-km Mindanao Railway System, which will connect Davao, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Zamboanga. The project is also expected to be financed by the Chinese government. The first phase of the Mindanao railway will be a 102-km line linking Tagum, Davao and Digos.
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