May 24, 2019
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday approved a $2.75-billion fund for the construction of the 53.1-kilometer passenger railway connecting Malolos, Bulacan to Clark International Airport.
“This is the largest ADB financed project ever and from a development perspective. We are delighted that it is happening here in our host country, the Philippines,” said ADB Country Director in the Philippines Kelly Bird in a media briefing.
The Malolos–Clark railway is part of the North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project, a 163-km suburban railway network stretching from New Clark City in Tarlac to Calamba in Laguna. It is expected to be completed by 2025.
ADB Principal Transport Specialist for Southeast Asia Markus Toesner said the project involves the construction of two rail segments- a 51.2-km section from Malolos City in Bulacan and a 1.9-km extension connecting NSCR to Bluementritt station in Manila where an elevated interchange station for Light Rain Transit Line 1 will be built.
The project is expected to cut travel time from Metro Manila to Clark Airport to less than an hour from the current 2 to 3 hours by car or bus today. It is cofinanced with up to $2 billion by the Japan International Coorperation Agency (JICA), which will fund the rolling stock and railway systems.
ADB will finance the civil works of the railway project including the stations, bridges, and viaducts for the elevated railway alignment, and a tunnel leading to the underground station at Clark Airport.
The railway project will have seven stations which will be located in Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, Clark International Airport all the way to Bluementritt.
Partial operation, which is expected to start by 2022, can serve at least 350,000 passengers daily.
“The operational maintenance of the project will be bid out to private sector companies which have an international experience especially in taking care of the high traffic demand and the high speed (160 km per hour) that is expected to be achieved on this line,” said Roesner.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said construction of the project alone will employ 20,000 workers.
“The NSCR is one of the various railway projects under the Duterte administration as we aim to extend the existing 77 km of railways to a total of 1,900 km of rail lines across the country,” she said.
Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon, meanwhile said the project is expected to further boost economic growth outside Metro Manila.
“The vision for the Clark area is to make it the next metropolis, the next urban and economic center for the country. The Manila to Clark railway is a key component of making this vision a reality,” he said.
Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino said the project will help the government achieve its Ambisyon 2040 goals. “The Ambisyon Natin 2040 is about getting to hike income country status by 2040 and this is the type of country that will help us get there,” he said.
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