Gov’t bumps up cost for North-South railway
The Investment Coordination CommitteeCabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has approved a higher cost for the North-South Commuter Railway System (NSCR), a high-speed train system that will connect the northern and southern parts of the greater Manila area.
The project will connect the NSCR Phase 1 (Malolos-Tutuban), the PNR South Commuter Railway (Solis-Calamba) and the Malolos-Clark Railway Project (MCRP), and create a 147-kilomoter elevated, doubletrack and seamless connection from Clark International Airport to Calamba, Laguna, with 36 stations.
The NSCR System will likewise link with existing railway LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 line, as well as the upcoming Metro Manila Subway.
ICC-CabCom approved a higher project cost of P777.55 billion from P440.88 billion for the train system project that would be undertaken by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
It would be funded through an official development assistance (ODA) loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
NEDA attributes the increase in project cost to three factors, as determined by the detailed engineering plans. These are: shift to elevated viaducts instead of at-grade structures to improve operational efficiencies and safety; adoption of standard gauge instead of narrow-gauge, in compliance with government standards to ensure seamless operations for all sections; and increase in the number of trains and change from single to double-tracks for the MCRP.
This updated cost would cover resettlement activities in accordance to ADB and JICA’s social and environmental safety safeguards meant to ensure that the estimated 12,901 families that have informally settled in the project areas would be assisted.
Citing data from the DOTr, NEDA said the price estimates for the NSCR System can still be considered to be more cost effective compared with other railway projects in Asia. Per kilometer, the project costs about $100 million.
The rail system is expected to be partially operational by 2022 with a daily ridership of 340,000 passengers. It would be fully operational by 2023 with a daily ridership of 550,000 passengers.
NEDA said the government would subsidize an average of P5 billion per year to cover capital, operating and renewal costs of the project.
“(This is) an investment that is expected to generate substantial economic activity, create more jobs, increase incomes, and deliver a more comfortable commuting experience,” the agency said.