Philippine gov’t to begin China loan talks for P175-B PNR Bicol project
The Philippines will commence negotiations with the Chinese government to secure a loan to finance the P175-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) train project that will run from Metro Manila to Bicol, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said on Thursday.
Batan said this was a procedural step to be handled by the Department of Finance.
The 565-kilometer PNR South Long Haul, one of the largest projects in the Duterte administration’s Build Build Build infrastructure program, aims to cut travel time from Manila to Sorsogon from 12 hours to as little as four hours.
During a virtual briefing, Batan explained the process for Chinese official development assistance (ODA) loans differed from other governments.
In Chinese ODAs, contractor deals are finalized and awarded before the loan deals are negotiated.
Last Jan. 18, the DOTr announced the signing of a P142-billion contract with a Chinese railway consortium to build the first 380-km phase of the PNR South Long Haul, also known as the PNR Bicol project.
The department said the design-build contract for the Banlic, Calamba, to Daraga, Albay, stretch was signed with the venture of China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co. Ltd. and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. Ltd.
Despite the signing, Batan said on Thursday the contract would only be “effective” once the loan deal is finalized.
PNR general manager Junn Magno said they were targeting to begin construction of the initial phase within the first quarter of 2022. He said the Laguna to Albay section would be finished by the third quarter of 2025 while the rest of the line will be completed by 2027.
The PNR South Long Haul will have five contracts that will include the train coaches and the construction of the railway line, which will have 35 stations from Sucat in Manila up to Matnog, Sorsogon.