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ADB: Malolos-Clark Railway plan to cut Manila-Clark travel time to 1 hour

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:24 PM May 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Travel time between Blumentritt in Manila and Clark International Airport in Pampanga would be slashed to less than one hour when the 53.1-kilometer Malolos-Clark Railway Project starts operation in 2022, thanks in part to a $2.75-billion loan to be extended by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The board of the Manila-based multilateral lender on Thursday approved its biggest loan for the Philippines to date to construct the Malolos-Clark Railway, which will be co-financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

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The ADB loan will cover civil works such as bridges, stations and viaducts for the elevated railway alignment as well as the tunnel going to the underground station for Clark International Airport, ADB principal transport specialist for Southeast Asia Markus C. Roesner told a press conference.

Meanwhile, Jica’s counterpart financing worth $2 billion will be used to buy trains as well as put up electrical and mechanical systems, he added.

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Roesner said bidding was already ongoing for six contracts covering elevated alignment, depot, and stations.

The Malolos-Clark Railway will have seven stations: Blumentritt, Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and Clark International Airport – all of which will be partially operational starting 2022 using a limited number of trains in order to cater to 350,000 commuters per day, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran said.

By the time it is ready for full operations, the rail system will serve one million passengers a day, Libiran added.

This railway project has two components, the main of which was the 51.2-kilometer section connecting Malolos City to Clark across six stations.

Malolos, in turn, will be connected to Tutuban in Manila by the ongoing Jica-financed rail system, which will also be connected to the Blumentritt Station of the Light Rail Transit-1 (LRT-1) by the second section of the Malolos-Clark Railway project.

Under the second phase will be the construction of 1.9-kilometer Solis-Blumentritt extension, where the elevated interchange station for LRT-1 will also be built.

“The rail stations will include multimodal facilities, allowing commuters to easily transfer from public buses and jeepneys to the trains. The underground station at the Clark International Airport will provide a short connection to upcoming and future airport terminals,” ADB said in a statement.

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“The project will be built on an elevated alignment, helping reduce the impact on communities, avoid disruption of activities, and mitigate flood risks along the route. It will use innovative construction methods such as pre-fabricated viaduct segments, which limits the need for land acquisition and accelerates construction. High-quality construction methods will be used to achieve the maximum rail speed of up to 160 kilometer per hour,” it added.

According to Roesner, the train will cut travel time between Manila and Clark to just less than one hour from two to three hours by car or bus at present.

“Our co-financing partnership with Jica allows both our institutions to combine our expertise and knowledge in building a world-class railway in the Philippines,” Roesner said.

As a whole, ADB said this project “will help ease the current chronic road congestion in Metro Manila, reduce air pollution, cut the costs of transport and logistics, spur economic growth in central Luzon, and encourage a population shift from the capital to growth centers in the north, such as Clark in Pampanga.”

“The ADB’s partnership with the Philippines has always been strong, and it has become stronger in the last three years. The government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program is clearly steering the much-needed acceleration in infrastructure spending, from less than 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) a decade ago to 6.3 percent now, well on track to achieve the 7 percent target by 2022,” ADB president Takehiko Nakao said.

“One of the key flagship projects of the ‘Build, Build, Build” program is the Malolos-Clark railway. It will be the ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever, and from a development perspective, we are pleased this investment is taking place in the ADB’s host country. The project, combined with other investments in light rail transit, metro rail transit, and subway systems, will bring back the culture of rail transport in Metro Manila,” Nakao added.

The “Build, Build, Build” pipeline included a total of 75 projects aimed at ushering in “the golden age of infrastructure.”

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