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Japan, ADB to finance 147-km train systems between Clark and Calamba

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:00 PM November 09, 2018

The economic team has consolidated three big-ticket railway projects into one massive P777.6-billion project stretching from the Clark Freeport Zone up north to Calamba, Laguna down south.

The North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) System, approved by the interagency Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC Cab-Com) last Tuesday, raised the total project cost from the previous P440.9 billion, to be co-financed by loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Z. Tan told the Inquirer last Thursday that Jica will finance the actual construction, while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will cover civil works.

“The increase in project cost is attributed to three factors as determined by the detailed engineering designs: shift to elevated viaducts instead of at-grade structures to improve operational efficiencies and safety; adoption of standard gauge instead of narrow-gauge, in compliance with government standards to ensure seamless operations for all sections; and increase in the number of trains and change from single to double-tracks for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project,” the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said in a statement Friday.

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“The cost will also cover resettlement activities, meeting ADB and JICA social and environmental safeguards, to ensure proper housing and welfare support for the estimated 12,901 informal settler families that will be affected,” the state planning agency added.

The NSCR, to be implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR), will connect the ongoing Phase 1 between Malolos, Bulacan and Tutuban, Manila to the PNR South Commuter Railway to Calamba as well as the Malolos-Clark Railway.

The three railway systems running a total of 147 kilometers will have 36 stations, to be connected to the Light Rail Transit 1, LRT 2, Metro Rail Transit 3, and the soon-to-rise Metro Manila Subway.

Based on earlier Neda documents, it will also pass through Clark International Airport.

“The NSCR System compared to other railway projects in Asia is more cost-effective. Per kilometer, the project costs about $100 million,” Neda quoted the DOTr as saying.

Partial operations will begin in 2022 with 340,000 passengers expected to use the system per day. Full operations will start in 2023, with a higher projected daily ridership of 550,000.

“The government will subsidize an average of P5 billion per year to cover capital, operating, and renewal costs of the project—an investment that is expected to generate substantial economic activity, create more jobs, increase incomes, and deliver a more comfortable commuting experience,” according to Neda.

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Based on earlier Neda documents, the Malolos-Clark and Tutuban-Calamba segments were currently undergoing detailed engineering design as well as supplemental feasibility studies by Jica.

The design and feasibility study would be completed by March or April next year.

According to an earlier ADB timetable, its counterpart financing for the north line to Clark Green City will be up for approval next year, while that for the south commuter line is expected to be approved in 2020. /kga

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