The Department of Transportation said Tuesday it is on track to completing the construction of PNR Clark Phase 1 by the second quarter of 2024.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, who led the inspection of Balagtas Station and Calumpit construction yard site of PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos segment), said the project had an overall progress of 46.68 percent.
“When the Duterte administration came in, we said we would find ways to make our dream and plan of building the rail project in Bulacan a reality,” Tugade said.
Tugade said this dream is now a reality, as the train sets to be used for the project would be delivered by December.
He said the training center for the rail line would also be finished before the end of the year.
Funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency, PNR Clark Phase 1 is a 38-kilometer railway that cuts through the cities of Manila, Caloocan and Valenzuela in Metro Manila, Meycuayan City, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto and Malolos City in Bulacan.
Once completed, the project will serve 300,000 passengers daily and is expected to slash travel time from Tutuban, Manila to Malolos, Bulacan from one hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes.
Tugade said about 70 former overseas Filipino workers were employed at the Calumpit construction yard as part of DOTr’s commitment to provide Filipinos displaced by the pandemic with jobs.
With movement restrictions imposed by states due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many OFWs lost their jobs and were forced to return home. On the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, the DOTr reached out to former OFWs with offers of employment under the “Build, Build, Build” program.
Tugade said more employment opportunities prioritizing former OFWs, displaced public utility drivers and conductors would be opened under DOTr projects.
He said at least 7,500 workers were employed during the construction of the rail project, while 2,500 additional jobs would be made available once the project became operational.