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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Romping through traffic

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In the twinkle of an eye, we will see the partial operations by 2025 and full operations by 2029 of the P873.62 billion 147-kilometer North-South Commuter Railway System.

The project’s initial phase was approved in 2015, and construction began in 2019. The line, which will cut through the traffic-hobbled Metro Manila area, is the most expensive railway transportation project in the country.

The new NSCR system – with trains accommodating 800,000 passengers daily and rolling at from 120 kph to 160 kph – will replace the PNR’s present street level, single track and diesel locomotive set-up.

The NSCR system infrastructure project is jointly funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Philippine government and will primarily run along PNR’s alignment and will have total 35 stations, 51 commuter train sets and seven express train sets.

Once completed in 2029, the entire NSCR system could reduce the travel time between Clark International Airport and Calamba City, Laguna from 4-4.5 hours to just less than two hours.

The NSCR’s last three segments is part of DOTr’s collaborative efforts with the ADB, embassies of South Korea and Japan, JICA, contractor Hyundai-DongAh joint venture, and the local government of Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Bautista said the mass rail transport infrastructure seeks to connect the northern and southern provinces adjacent to Metro Manila to provide a faster, more seamless travel to and from the metropolis.

“Residents and communities who have noticed the railway’s massive construction have pinned their hopes on a comfortable, affordable, safe and efficient commute – a striking contrast to the deteriorating road traffic that has spilled over to north and south of Metro Manila,” Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said.

He said the existing tracks from Alabang to Calamba will be relocated to be used at the proposed 565-kilometer-long South Long-Haul project that will stretch all the way to Bicol.

He expects the new rail infrastructure will “open the gates for the renaissance of the railway industry in the Philippines.”

Commuters will certainly be buoyed up since they will be offered fast public transport, which has evaded them for years, and the railway system will help ease road traffic congestion and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse emissions in line with the Philippines’ climate agenda.

Traffic congestion, according to research studies, results in an estimated productivity loss of around P2.4 billion ($54 million) a day or more than P800 billion ($18 billion) a year.

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