July 12, 2019
THE government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $1.3-billion (P66.55 billion) loan for the Malolos–Clark Railway Project, which is expected to ease traffic in Metro Manila and spur growth once it is built.
In a statement on Thursday, the Manila-based multilateral lender said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd and ADB Vice President Ahmed Seed inked the loan — the first tranche of a bigger one worth $2.75 billion — in a ceremony witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacañang.
“Our work in the Philippines has always held a special place in the history of ADB. Now, under President Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program, ADB is considerably scaling up its own support to the government,” Saeed said in the statement.
“The Malolos–Clark Railway Project is ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever at $2.75 billion. We are pleased to be supporting this important flagship project in our host country,” he added.
The project aims to build 53.1 kilometers of a passenger railway connecting Malolos City in Bulacan province to the Clark economic zone and Clark International Airport in Pampanga province, according to an earlier ADB statement.
It is estimated to cut travel time from Metro Manila to the Clark airport to less than an hour, compared with the current two to three hours by car or bus.
The planned railway will use cutting-edge technology to build an elevated railway line, with a maximum train speed of 160 kilometers per hour, to help ease road congestion in and around Metro Manila, reduce air pollution, cut the costs of transport and logistics, and encourage economic growth and a population shift outside the capital.
It is expected to begin partial operations in 2022.
The project is part of the North–South Commuter Railway project, which aims to link the still-unfinished New Clark City in Capas town, Tarlac province to Calamba City, Laguna province by 2025.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is co-financing the project with an additional financing of up to $2 billion for the rolling stock and the railway systems.
The Malolos–Clark project is a result of close collaboration between the ADB, JICA and the Department of Transportation.
Civil-works contracts under the project are being bidded out, with the first contract awards expected in the fourth quarter of this year.
Other ADB projects being prepared for this year include the EDSA Greenways Project, which will construct elevated walkways along busy intersections in Metro Manila, and additional financing for the metropolis’ main water supply system under the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project.
ADB earlier said assistance to the Philippines is expected to hit a record $2.5 billion for 2019, more than double its average annual financing of $1 billion in the last three years.
ADB’s future proposed projects include financing for the Blumentritt–Calamba section of the North–South Commuter Railway project in 2020, and the railway extension to New Clark City in 2022, with co-financing from JICA.
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