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DOTC readies P271-B railway plan

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is set to present to MalacaƱang next month the proposed P271-billion North-South Commuter railway project.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the project would be presented to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Aquino for approval.

The proposed project stretching 89.7 kilometers from Malolos in Bulacan to Calamba in Laguna aims to upgrade and modernize the Philippine National Railway (PNR) in order to provide a safe, reliable, fast and convenient rail transport system.

Abaya explained that the project would use the existing Philippines National Railway (PNR) right-of-way (ROW) through the greater Manila area. It involves the rapid rehabilitation of the existing at-grade PNR railway infrastructure.

According to Abaya, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has expressed interest in undertaking the Malolos in Bulacan to Tutuban stretch involving an elevated railway.

On the other hand, the DOTC chief said the Tutuban to Calamba stretch would be offered to prospective investors via the Aquino government’s public private partnership (PPP) scheme.

“The Japanese (JICA) are interested to do the Malolos to Tutuban line. The Tutuban to Calamba will be under the PPP scheme,” he said,

Abaya pointed out that the winning proponent could expand the rail system by putting up additional rail tracks and bringing in more trains.

Once approved by the NEDA Board, he explained that the government could start the procurement process by publishing the invitation to bid.

Last March, the DOTC and the PPP Center held a  forum to lure investors in major railway projects as part of efforts to give commuters alternative mode of transportation.

The government is looking at increasing urban mass transport ridership to 2.2 million per day by 2016 or 2017 from the current level of 1.2 million per day under the government’s Rail Transport Development Plan.

Under the plan, the DOTC would develop intermodal facilities and at the same time improve transport linkages and efficiency to production and consumption markets.

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