MANILA, Philippines – If everything goes according to plan, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) will be bidding out “early this year” two major railway projects in Luzon.
DOTC expects feasibility studies for the 900-kilometer Integrated Luzon Railway and the 90-kilometer commuter railway – also known as the Airport Express Rail – to be finished soon. Once done, the proposals will be presented to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board for approval “within the first semester.”
“If we get NEDA clearance on both Integrated Luzon Railway and the north-south commuter railway, we can bid out early this year,” said Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
The Integrated Luzon Railway project, which aims to revitalize the entire length of state-run Philippine National Railway (PNR), will run from Cagayan Valley to Sorsogon in Bicol. The project will cover the north network of PNR – from Manila to La Union as well as the branch line from Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and a possible extension to Cagayan – and the the south network – from Manila to Legaspi City, including the branch line from Calamba to Batangas City.
The government is considering linking the railway to the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.
On the other hand, Abaya said the commuter rail will run from Malolos in Bulacan all the way down to Calamba in Laguna. He said the rail will be constructed above the PNR tracks at a cost of up to $5 billion.
Abaya said the Japan International Cooperation Agency is helping out in the feasibility studies to determine if the projects can be placed under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.
Launched in 2010, the PPP program is the centerpiece of the Aquino administration’s development goals. The program aims to create much-needed infrastructure that will help sustain the country’s economic growth.
If approved, Abaya said the projects can be completed between 5 and 6 years.
“So at least from our end, we will get this going and hopefully the people who would replace us at DOTC will find these as viable projects that will serve the people,” Abaya said. – Rappler.com