A rail network will soon link the entire Philippines and provide seamless travel from the northern to the southern tips of the archipelago.
The Department of Transportation is building more train lines across the country as part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program to decongest Metro Manila and provide faster connectivity in provinces.
“We hope to finish the term of President Duterte with at least 1,000 kilometers of railway system all over the country,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
One of the ambitious railway projects of the government is the PNR North or Manila-Clark Railway Project, a 106-kilometer line connecting Manila to Central Luzon that will tremendously reduce travel time by as much as 70 percent.
The project can cut travel time from Tutuban, Manila to Clark, Pampanga to 55 minutes from the current two to three hours.
The rail line will have a total of 17 stations that will run from Tutuban passing through Marilao and Malolos in Bulacan province and all the way to the Clark International Airport and the proposed New Clark City in Tarlac province.
The PNR North railway project is one of the 61 infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration.
It will begin construction later this year and is set for completion in 2021. It is designed to accommodate 350,000 passengers daily on its opening year.
Other rail projects include PNR South (Manila–Los Baños–Bicol) and Mindanao Railway. MRT-7, LRT-2 East Extension and LRT-1 Cavite Extension projects are all undergoing construction.
The agency also plans to construct the P355.6-billion Metro Manila Subway Project, which is expected to start by the fourth quarter of next year.
The first phase of the Metro Manila Subway will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to FTI in Taguig and terminate at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Parañaque City.
“I need to have that connectivity. I have a big problem with NAIA because of the projected increase in volume of passengers,” Tugade said.
The subway alignment originally has 13 stations, starting from Mindanao Avenue and ending at FTI Taguig. This is seen to cut travel time from Quezon City to Taguig to just 31 minutes.
The Transportation Department also plans to build the 102-km Mindanao Railway Project: Tagum-Davao-Digos (MRP-TDD) segment, which is expected to reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once it starts operating in 2022.
The MRP-TDD segment is the first of the three segments of the Mindanao Railway Project. The design and construction of the project will begin by the third quarter of next year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
The MRP-TDD aims to make travel faster, safer, more convenient and comfortable for passengers in the Mindanao corridor. It will have eight stations: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum.
The rail line will be built with a single track, with provisions for future tracks and electrification. It will have six 5-car passenger trains (Diesel Multiple Units) with 3 spare cars, 4 locomotives and 15 freight cars.
Upon project completion, the DOTr expects the daily ridership of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment to increase to 134,060 by 2022. The department projects the daily ridership to further increase to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042.
2 news stations
In Manila, the government is building two additional rail stations as part of an expansion. Tugade appealed for patience and understanding from the commuting public while the two new stations are being constructed. The construction may cause traffic congestion in the affected areas.
“This will cause a bit of inconvenience. The construction will cause a bit of traffic but we should get this done. Panandaliang hirap pero ang kapalit ay pangmatagalang ginhawa,” he quipped.
LRT-2 East Extension Project is a 4-kilometer extension of the existing LRT-2 System from Santolan, Pasig City to Masinag in Antipolo, Rizal.
Two additional stations will be built, namely the Emerald station, which will be located in front of Robinsons Metro East and Sta. Lucia in Cainta, Rizal, and the Masinag station, which will be located before the Masinag Junction in Antipolo City. These stations are expected to accommodate 80,000 passengers a day.
Once completed, the extended line is expected to significantly cut the commuting time from Masinag in Antipolo to Claro M. Recto in Manila by 30 to 40 minutes from an average of 3 hours of driving on the road.
The construction of stations is set to be finished in August 2018.
Other ongoing rail projects include the MRT 7 that will link Quezon City and Bulacan as well as the extension of the existing LRT Line 1 up to Cavite.
Aside from extensive rail development, the DOTr is also implementing at least three Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, establishing 77 km of segregated busways and improving pedestrian and bikeway facilities.
These include the Cebu BRT, the Quezon Avenue BRT, and the Central Corridor (EDSA) BRT. Several other BRT systems and corridors are also being studied by the DOTr.