The Department of Transportation said Wednesday it signed a P142-billion contract with Chinese companies to build the first 380 kilometers of the Philippine National Railway Bicol Project from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay.
The agency through Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade signed the design-build contract with the joint venture of China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co. Ltd. and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. Ltd. The agreement covers the design, construction and electromechanical works of the project.
“For our kababayans in the south who have dreamt of this project for so long, we are finally seeing the light of day. This milestone is a huge leap towards realizing this long-awaited project—the PNR Bicol or the South Long Haul Project,” Tugade said.
“We are grateful to our development partners from China for supporting us in this endeavor and believing that the Filipino people deserve an improved quality of life,” he said.
Listed in both the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchange, CREC JV ranked 35th on the Fortune Global 500 list and fifth among China’s top 500 enterprises in 2021.
The first 380 kilometers of PNR Bicol from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay will span 39 cities and municipalities, four provinces and two regions. It will involve the construction of 23 stations, 230 bridges, 10 passenger tunnels and a 70-hectare depot in San Pablo, Laguna.
“We welcome this development full of enthusiasm as we will be working with rail experts known for their efficiency and speed in building long haul railways,” said PNR general manager Junn Magno.
“This, along with our earnest goal to provide comfort and convenience to our commuters, will make this dream project a reality,” he said.
The project will be funded by official development assistance from China. The Chinese government may finance up to 85 percent of the contract amount, with the balance to be funded by the local counterpart budget.
Along with future segments, PNR Bicol will consist of a 565-kilometer railway, connecting Metro Manila to the southern Luzon provinces of Sorsogon and Batangas.
Once fully operational, it will cut travel time between Metro Manila and Bicol from 12 hours by road to as short as 4 hours.
Passenger trains will run at a speed of up to 160 kilometers per hour, while freight trains will run at a speed of up to 100 kilometers per hour. During construction, the project is expected to generate more than 5,000 direct jobs per year.