PH gearing up for ‘railway renaissance’
MANILA -By 2055, the Philippines—with the assistance from the Japanese government—is envisioned to have better connectivity and train commuting experience that is at par with Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul through the establishment of railway networks in the capital and nearby densely populated regions.
This “railway renaissance,” according to Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista, is set to be realized via a 30-year rail master plan covering the National Capital Region, Central Luzon and Calabarzon.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr), Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently inked their partnership to work on the game plan, which is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2026. DOTr said Jica has pledged about ¥300 million, or P125.68 million, for this initiative.
“Railway development in the Greater Capital Region would not involve only longer rail lines and more trains. The strategic framework of this development plan must include the comfort and safety of the passengers,” Bautista said.
While the specific details are yet to be ironed out, the goal is to increase rail passenger trips and double the average distance of all trips within one hour during peak rush hour, among others.
“The plan also aims to increase rail density and rail share of trips to be at par with Metropolitan Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul,” the DOTr said.
In addition, railway personnel will be trained to adapt to new technologies and modern equipment, Bautista said.
Under the partnership, ADB will be tapped to conduct a land transport traffic survey and develop a demand forecast modeling for ridership.
“This master plan … will transcend five presidencies, and I am sure that it will contain a blueprint so viable, and a vision so compelling that succeeding administrations will have no choice but to follow it,” DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez said.
“We need more railway networks. Please, count on Jica to continue supporting and [collaborating] with you to create a better railway master plan for Metro Manila,” Jica chief representative to the Philippines Takema Sakamoto said.
Prior to this, Bautista said the government was keen on pursuing the 853-kilometer (km) Philippine National Railway North Long Haul, 100-km Panay Railway, 54-km North Mindanao Railway and 17-km San Mateo Railway.