The country’s first airport railway express service will soon start construction as the first two contract packages for the Philippine National Railways Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark) segment of the massive North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project were signed over the weekend.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade led the virtual signing of the contracts, marking the commencement of civil works for the 53-kilometer extension that will bring passengers from Makati City in Metro Manila to Clark International Airport in Pampanga in just under one hour.
The first signing was for Contract Package N-04, which covers the civil engineering and building works for approximately 6.3 kilometers of the main line and 1.6 kilometers of the depot’s access line with an underground station serving Clark International Airport.
Also signed was Contract Package N-05, which covers the civil engineering and building works for the Clark Railway Depot. The depot covers an overall area of approximately 33 hectares. The contract covers the construction of the Operations Control Center, stabling yard, workshops, training center and other ancillary buildings in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
In his message, Tugade said the contract signing is proof that flagship projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program continue despite various challenges posed by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“While the critics have expressed doubts, skepticisms, and discouragement, we will give the people hope, confidence, and assurance through concrete actions and actual work,” he said.
Tugade described the PNR Clark Phase 2 as symbolic of a new ground being created as the project paves the way for the establishment of the country’s first-ever airport railway express service.
“Since the NSCR will feature the country’s first airport express train service allowing travelers to get from Makati to Clark Airport in under one hour, we can consider it as a trailblazing project. To achieve this, trains will run at 160 kilometers per hour, making it one of the fastest modes of land public transportation,” he said.
The virtual signing ceremony was also attended by key officials from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Acciona Construction Philippines, EEI Corporation, and POSCO Engineering and Construction Corporation, who expressed their full support and commitment with the project, which is part of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
“Secretary Tugade, on behalf of the ADB, on behalf of the management, I’d like to congratulate you and the team, as well as the two successful contractors. This is a very special day. And Secretary Tugade, it is definitely your strong leadership, your drive, your unwavering and unrelenting commitment to the Philippines that led us, brought us all together here today,” ADB Southeast Asia Director General Ramesh Subramaniam said.
Subramaniam noted that the signing of contracts is a major milestone for the Malolos-Clark Railway project as well as for the Philippine transport sector.
“The signing of contracts today also is very, very timely. The civil works contracts will help kickstart the economic revival of the Philippines over the next 12 months as the country faces the pandemic. Under the railway project, we estimate that 24,000 local construction jobs will be directly created during the next three years. And another at least 14,000 jobs needed for operating the railway system,” he said.
Contract Package N-04 was virtually signed with Acciona Construction Philippines, through Director Ruben Eugenio Garcia and Chief Financial Officer Angel Fernandez de la Pradilla, and EEI Corporation, through President and CEO Roberto Jose Castillo.
Contract Package N-05 meanwhile was virtually signed with POSCO Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd., through Executive Vice President Dong Ho Kim and POSCO E&C Vice President Sung Wook Chung.
Once partially operational by 2022, PNR Clark Phase 2 will connect Malolos, Bulacan to Clark International Airport. It will cut down travel time to 30-35 minutes, from the original 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Also in attendance in the virtual signing ceremony were Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa, and Senior Representative Kiyo Kawabuchi, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, Undersecretary for Finance Garry De Guzman, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Reinier Paul Yebra, PNR General Manager Junn Magno, Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez, and EEI Corporation Senior Vice President for Infrastructure Group Manfred Richter. (PNA)