MANILA, Philippines – By 2019, the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT2) will run from Masinag in Antipolo City all the way to Pier 4 area in Manila City, catering to more than 315,000 passengers daily.
Currently, the youngest of the 3 main elevated railways in Metro Manila has a design capacity of 240,000 passengers daily and only runs from Santolan, Pasig City, to Recto, Manila.
The LRT2 operates with 18 train sets, but only 12 of those are functional. Due to inadequate train sets, the government is under fire for technical glitches and long queue lines.
It is during rush hour – mornings when passengers travel to work and early evenings when they return home – that riding the LRT2, along with other elevated railways, becomes a suffering, with passengers packed in a train like sardines after waiting for long hours.
Solutions: East and west extensions
But for the LRT Authority (LRTA), the P9.5-billion ($211.12 million) LRT2 East extension and P10.12-billion ($224.92 million) LRT2 West extension deals will address the concerns of its commuters.
“The east and west extensions of LRT2 will address the need to increase the design capacity as we can’t control the number of passengers using the train,” LRTA chief Honorito Chaneco told reporters.
“This will also help address the traffic gridlock in Metro Manila,” he added.
From Santolan to Masinag
On Tuesday, June 9, the construction for the eastward extension for LRT2 started with a groundbreaking ceremony.
DMCI Holdings Incorporated of construction magnate Isidro Consunji bagged the deal to build a 3.9-kilometer elevated guideway for the LRT2 East extension from its current end-station in Santolan to Masinag, with a winning bid of P2.27 billion ($50.45 million).
DMCI has 18 months to complete civil works for the elevated guideway or viaduct.
The LRT2 East extension will be operational by the 3rd quarter of 2017, and is expected to cater daily to an additional 75,000 passengers from the densely populated areas of Rizal.
“With [the extension’s] completion, residents of Rizal will be able to enjoy the experience of a full, comfortable eastbound travel as we bring schools, workplaces, and other amenities closer to their homes,” Tranportation Undersecretary Julianito Bucayan Jr said in his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony.
Two additional stations will be built by DMCI: Emerald Station in Cainta and Masinag Station at the Masinag Junction in Antipolo.
From Recto to Pier 4
For the west side of LRT2, the government is targeting to bid out the the design and construction of its West extension, which will run from Recto Station to Pier 4, including the turn-back track.
The project will have a total length of approximately 3.02 kilometers and with 3 proposed additional stations that includes Tutuban (next to the Cluster Mall); Divisoria (west of the Recto Avenue and Asuncion Street intersection); and Pier 4 (located 50 meters north of Zaragoza Street).
“We will work on the DED (detailed engineering design) first so we can bid out the civil works in the first quarter of 2016. Construction will take 3.5 years so completion [is targeted] in 2019,” transportation spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said in a text message.
The National Economic and Development Authority Board in May approved the project of the transportation department.
“We have just secured approval to proceed with the project and once this is completed, travel from East to West of Metro Manila and vice versa will be easier,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said.
DMCI wants all extensions
After bagging the LRT2 East Extension deal, DMCI wants to take it all and also build the elevated railway’s West extension.
DMCI senior vice president Luis Pastor said his company is planning to participate in the bidding of the P10.12-billion ($224.92 million) LRT2 deal, which is set in the first quarter of 2016.
“We will join as long as it is competitive,” Pastor said.
DMCI president and CEO Isidro Consunji said that “other than the O&M (operations and maintenance) and East (extension), we’ll also look at the West (Extension).”
The government is also bidding out the O&M of the existing LRT2 under a public-private partnership scheme.
Four investor groups, including DMCI, have sought qualification to bid for a contract to operate and maintain the LRT2, the transportation department said.
- Aboitiz Equity Ventures Incorporated-SMRT International Private Limited Consortium
- DM Consunji Incorporated-Tokyo Metro Company Limited Consortium
- Light Rail Manila 2 Consortium (led by LRM Holdings, Incorporated of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and Ayala Corporation; RATP Transdev Group, and RATP Development);
- San Miguel Corporation-Korea Railroad Corporation Consortium