Gov’t to award Bicol rail project in 4th quarter
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) plans to award the construction packages for a long-haul railway line that will link Metro Manila to Bicol province south of Luzon by the fourth quarter of this year.
Timothy John Batan, transportation undersecretary for railways, said the 639-kilometer railway line to be funded by the Chinese government was on track for actual procurement in the coming weeks.
The train line, formally known as the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long-Haul Project, will cost around P175 billion, making it one of the biggest under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
Batan said the bidding terms of reference were currently being prepared by China Railway Design Corp., the project management consultant. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board previously approved the financing of the PNR Bicol Project through official development assistance (ODA) from the government of China.
“The good thing in the commitment of the Chinese government is the eventual contractor will not wait for the loan agreement to be signed before they start working,” Batan said.
The DOTr earlier announced that the PNR to Bicol line would be partially operational before President Duterte steps down in 2022.
Upon completion, the PNR Bicol Project will connect Metro Manila, Region IV-A (Calabarzon) and Region V (Bicol), reducing travel time from Manila to Legazpi City from 13 hours to under 6 hours.
The PNR South Long Haul was previously listed among the Aquino administration’s pipeline of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. Its funding was then shifted to ODA loans under Mr. Duterte.
Mindanao railway project
The Chinese government is also expected to fund a significant portion of the 1,500-km Mindanao railway project, which will connect Davao, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Zamboanga.
The first phase of the Mindanao railway project is a P35-billion section that will run about 100 km through Tagum, Davao and Digos.
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