RB

Bidding begins for Clark Railway Project

By: creepysiren

Category: Development, Government

Location: Clark Avenue, Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines

Date Published: October 16, 2019

Artist rendering of the Balagtas, Bulacan station of the North-South Commuter Railway

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) stated on Wednesday, October 16, that five foreign firms and one local company are currently bidding to build segments of a major railway project that will connect Clark City in Pampanga to Calamba City in Laguna.

The DOTr said it accepted bids last Monday for the right to build parts of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR).

One contract is for the construction of 8 kilometers of tracks including the Clark International Airport Station (Contract Package 4), and another was for the construction of the Clark Depot (Contract Package 5). Prospective bidders include Acciona (Spain), EEI (Philippines), GS Engineering & Construction (Korea), Posco Engineering & Construction (Korea), PT Waskita (Indonesia), and PT Wika (Indonesia), the DOTr said in a statement.

Both contract packages are part of the commuter railway's Clark Phase 2, which will run from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga. The rail line will feature the country’s first airport express railway service, the DOTr said.

The NSCR Project spans 148 kilometers with 37 stations. The P777.55-billion project is co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Before the year ends, more contract packages will be up for bidding, the DOTr said.

Among the contracts that will be bid out is the PNR Calamba Package 1, and NSCR’s 304 commuter train cars, 56 airport express train cars, and electromechanical systems.

Railway projects are taking center stage next year as the sector will account for the bulk of DOTr’s proposed budget for 2020.

The department presented to the Senate on Thursday its P147-billion proposed spending plan for next year, where P108 billion will be spent on projects, of which 99% will be spent on railways.

The Senate Committee on Finance approved the budget, which will now be taken up at the plenary. Approximately P106.7 billion of DoTr’s approved budget for projects will go to railways, followed by P507.5 million for the maritime sector, P346.5 million for the aviation sector and P101 million for roads. About P360.6 million of the budget will go to other projects.

“The reason for this budget is because we are aggressively expanding the railway network,” Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan said at the hearing.

Within the same six-year period, the number of stations across all railway systems is targeted to increase to 169 from 59, the number of trains to 1,425 from 221, and daily ridership to 3.26 million from 1.02 million.

“Itong 2016, 2017 and 2018, iginugol natin sa project approvals, procurement at pag-arrange ng mga loans [We spent 2016, 2017 and 2018 for project approvals, procurement and arranging loans]. ’Yung construction natin is mostly starting in 2019, 2020, continuing to 2021,” he said.

Senators also asked the DoTr on the MRT-3 rehabilitation and how soon commuters may expect ease in riding experience. Mr. Batan said repairs are scheduled for completion by July 2021, but at least nine of the 48 new trains from China will be gradually rolled out for regular operations starting the second half of 2020.

Meanwhile, Transportation OIC Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Richmund M. de Leon said the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program may extend its deadline for jeepney phaseout beyond July 2020.

“’Yung target kasi, ’yun ’yung [That target was] when we started this modernization program last 2017… But having said that, meron tayong mga [we’re encountering] challenges on financing, on the cost of the units, we will evaluate again based on these challenges,” he said at the hearing.

The government initially required jeepney drivers and operators to change their fleet of 15-year-old jeepneys into “environment friendly” units by 2020.

Mr. de Leon said there are 170,000 old jeepney units across the country today, and the goal is to have about 85,000 modern units to replace them by next year.

However, there are only 2,595 modern jeepneys operational today — more than two years since the launch of the PUV Modernization program.

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