The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday signed P85 billion in construction contracts for a key phase of the 148-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) System in Luzon, a major infrastructure project that is moving forward under the Duterte administration.
The department led the virtual signing ceremonies with Filipino and international contractors for the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 2—also known as the Malolos-Clark Railway Project, which formed part of the NSCR.
This phase stretches 54 km and will feature a so-called airport express service since it will create a railway link between Metro Manila and Clark International Airport in Pampanga by 2025.
In his remarks on Thursday, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade called the NSCR the singe largest project under the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
“This administration shall remain firm and steadfast in turning this railway project into a living reality,” Tugade said.
Three contract packages were signed during the event.
The first is with the venture between Megawide Construction Corp., Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. and Dong-Ah Geological Engineering Co. Ltd.
Worth P28.4 billion, this package covers 17 km in the towns of Malolos and Calumpit in Bulacan and in the towns of Apalit and Minalin in Pampanga.
“We have strong and extremely competent partners in Hyundai and Dong-ah, from whom we will be able to learn and leverage our learnings on as we pursue more projects in this space,” Edgar Saavedra, Megawide chair and CEO, said in a statement.
Package No. 2 was signed with the venture between Acciona Construction Philippines and Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd.
Worth P33.7 billion, this will cover 16 km in the towns of Minalin, Sto. Tomas and San Fernando in Pampanga.
The final package was signed with Italian-Thai Development Public Co. Ltd. It is worth P22.78 billion and covers 12 km in the towns of San Fernando, Angeles and Mabalacat in Pampanga.
Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said construction for these segments were set to begin before the end of 2020 and the department was targeting partial operations by 2023 before its full completion in five years.
The NSCR is being financed with loans provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
ADB director general for Southeast Asia Ramesh Subramaniam said during the signing ceremonies that the three packages alone would create over 25,000 jobs in the next three years.
He said the project was also timely in creating employment in the midst of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These civil works contracts will help accelerate the Philippines’ economic revival over the next 12-24 months,” Subramaniam said.
The NSCR will eventually encompass 37 stations, 464 train cars across 26 cities and municipalities across in Luzon. It can serve about 830,000 passengers daily once operational and has provisions for future expansion.
It includes the PNR Clark Phase 1, a 38-km line from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos Bulacan. The segment, which now stands at 40.48 percent completion rate, is targeted to be partially operable by December 2021.
The final segment is the 56-km PNR Calamba from Solis, Manila to Calamba, Laguna. The segment now stands at 20.42-percent progress rate.