Gov’t bumps up cost for North-South rail­way

The Philippine Star - - BUSINESS - By CZERIZA VA­LEN­CIA

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.

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