Gov’t earmarks P692.68-billion for 8 rail projects

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Over the course of President Duterte’s term, the government will invest more than half-a-trillion pesos to develop eight railway systems to build an integrated network of train lines that are envisioned to improve mobility in Metro Manila and ease the congestion that has been plaguing the capital for years now.

In a matter of six years the government and the private sector may spend close to P692.68 billion to develop several railway lines to address the need for efficient and modern mass-transport systems in Luzon.

Up for implementation, according to Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Noel Eli B. Kintanar, are the following: Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1,2,4,5 and 6; Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 7; and the extension of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) to Clark and to Los Baños, Laguna.

He admitted that such a list is a tall order, given that the Duterte administration only has six years to do this. But the official assured that these projects will see the light of day within the new government’s term.

But initial indications suggest that the operations and maintenance deal for the LRT 2 might be on  the government’s priority list for rails. This is being implemented under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program.

“The first one in the pipe is the contract for the operations and maintenance of the LRT 2 and looking at expanding it to full PPP,” Kintanar said.

Implementing the project as a “fully PPP,” he explained, means that the government will add the westward extension component to the deal. The said project aims to extend the line from its current end-station in Recto up to Pier 4 in the port area in Manila.

Currently, the railway system is being extended to Masinag in Antipolo to the tune of P2.27 billion. It is expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2017.     Kintanar assured that the government will not only focus on the said project, but will work in “parallel” to achieve its goal of building a network of railways in Metro Manila.

Projects currently under different preconstruction are the LRT 1 Cavite Extension and the MRT 7.

Light Rail Manila Corp., the concessionaire for the LRT 1 Cavite Extension, is still waiting for the delivery of the right-of-way for the whole line, which is envisioned to be an 11.7-kilometer extension from the present end point at Baclaran to the Niyog area in Bacoor, Cavite.

The P62.7-billion MRT 7 is currently awaiting the delivery of the remaining portions of easement before being constructed. It is also awaiting the final requirement of finalizing the location of the so-called common station in North Edsa.

Also moving up its implementation phase is the LRT Line 6, a P65-billion railway system envisioned to run 19 kms. from Niyog, Bacoor, to Dasmariñas City in Cavite. Prequalification activities are scheduled in September.

The P42.89-billion LRT 4, on the other hand, is at the conceptualization stage. It is a proposed 11-km rail line running west from the SM City in Taytay to the intersection of Ortigas Avenue and Edsa in Ortigas.

LRT Line 5, or the P374.5-billion Mass Transit System Loop, is currently being revived as “there is demand for the service.” It was shelved by the previous administration due to issues on right-of-way. It is envisioned to connect the Bonifacio Global City, the Makati Central Business District and the Mall of Asia area in Pasay City under one circular line.

As for the PNR extensions, which is under the North-South Railway Project, the transportation department is “currently reviewing” the contract. The previous administration has proposed to cut the two-phase deal into two different contracts instead of implementing them as one.

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