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Govt revives Clark rail project

The Transportation Department proposed to build a railway system connecting Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City and Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told reporters the planned rail system would use the right of way of North Luzon Expressway and Philippine National Railways. “It [rail] would come from Naia or Trinoma [in Quezon City] to Clark,” Tugade said. 

Tugade said the department would finalize the proposal for submission to the National Economic and Development Authority within 90 days. The proposed rail system aims to promote Clark International Airport as an alternative international gateway to Naia which is now congested.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade
A similar project was proposed under the Arroyo administration but was shelved by the Aquino administration.

Japan International Cooperation Agency said Naia was expected to exceed its maximum handling capacity this year, when the airport would handle 37.78 million passengers.  Its maximum handling capacity stands at 35 million passengers a year.

Tugade also said the agency planned to ask airlines to transfer their turbo-props operations to Clark as part of the government program to decongest the NAIA. The meeting with the airline operators is scheduled Thursday. 

Tugade said general aviation at Naia would be removed to increase the capacity of the terminal “When I remove general aviation, you will have an additional space between 18 percent and 21 percent.  Already, this weekend,  I was pleased to get an open letter from [Philippine Airlines] chairman Lucio Tan saying he is openly endorsing the removal of general aviation and that he will also remove all his jet and helicopters there to show his commitment. Same is true with Lance Gokongwei,” Tugade said. 

He said general aviation would be transferred to Sangley Point in Cavite. 

Meanwhile, the Duterte administration also proposed to build a cable car to address traffic congestion at Edsa.  “I’m not thinking this for a replacement for train. Hopefully I can make this concept approved by end of the year and implement it by mid next year,” Tugade said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government needed at least 10 years of continuous buildup of roads, bridges and railways to fully achieve the so-called “golden age” of infrastructure.

“I think, my forecast is 10 years of continuous buildup. We are really severely handicapped by [the lack of] infra [in the past administrations],” Diokno said at the sidelines of a Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines forum in Makati City.

Diokno said infrastructure projects would be built simultaneously nationwide and not sequentially as practiced. Diokono said in Metro Manila, there be another three or four lines to supplement the existing LRT Line 1, LRT 2 and MRT 7.

“For too long, public infrastructure has been neglected. As a result, the Philippine economy is deficient in all types of infrastructure—roads and bridges, ports and airports, railways and urban transit systems, irrigation systems and water systems. To address this, we will hike infrastructure spending from a low 5 percent to a high of 7 percent of GDP,” Diokno said. With Julito G. Rada

Topics: Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade , Clark rail project , Ninoy Aquino International Airport , Clark International Airport , North Luzon Expressway , Philippine National Railways
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