The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has signed two contracts that would kickstart the construction for the Malolos to Clark Railway project, also called the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 2, as reported by Malaya Business Insight. The ceremony happened virtually, given the community quarantine protocols still in place.
Funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the initiative amounted to P38 billion. The first contract worth P21.4 billion was awarded to the joint venture of Spain’s Acciona Construction Philippines and EEI Corp. They will be in charge of the construction of the 6.3-kilometer railway line and 1.6-kilometer depot access line. Moreover, they will build the underground station at Clark International Airport.
Meanwhile, the second contract was awarded to Korea’s POSCO Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd., amounting to P16.5 billion. The firm will be constructing a 33-hectare depot in Mabalacat, Pampanga, which covers the operations control center, stabling yard, workshops, training center, and other ancillary buildings.
For Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the signing of the contracts is a testament to the department’s unwavering commitment to providing the necessary transport infrastructure in the country. Build, Build, Build continues, he said.
Set to run partial operations by 2022, the Malolos to Clark Railway will cut travel time between Bulacan and the International Airport to merely 30 to 35 minutes, a huge difference from the current 1 hour and 30 minutes. The segment will likewise have the country’s first airport rail express.
PNR Clark Phase 2 forms part of the North-South Commuter Railway, which spans across different key provinces in the Luzon area. Phase 1 of the project stretches from Tutuban in Northern Manila to Malolos. With its completion in 2021, it’s expected to accommodate 300,000 passengers daily, as reported earlier by Sunstar.
Meanwhile, Phase 3 is PNR Calamba, which connects Manila to Calamba in Laguna. All in all, the railway network will be about 148 kilometers long.
ADB will fund the North-South Commuter Railway projects through multi-tranche financing facilities, allocating $2.75 billion for the Malolos to Clark station and $4.25 billion for the Manila to Calamba stations. The loan has a tenure of 30 years with a seven-year grace period.
New Airport Terminal
Aside from the signing of the airport railway contracts, the completion of the new terminal building in Clark International Airport is another thing the transportation department looks forward to. According to the latest report from Sunstar, the structure is already 99.52 percent complete, which will be ready for its partial operations in January 2021.
Designed to expand accommodation capacity, the new terminal building is set to hold 12 million passengers a year, a significant increase from the present four million.
As reported by Manila Bulletin last month, the terminal boasts of distinctive roof design, as it resembles waves. The structure used glued-laminated timber from Austria, a durable, high-quality material. With its arch measuring 22 meters high, Clark Airport is set to be the tallest airport structure in the country.
Inside the terminal, the ceiling arches were made to look like Mount Arayat and Zambales’ mountain ranges. The wood used in the arches is white spruce from Austria. Looking out the front of the building, passengers can see Mount Arayat on a clear day.
The entire building used precast concrete floor slabs and wall elements, a sustainable, green material.
Push for Domestic Travels
The construction of this transportation infrastructure proves to be beneficial for the government’s aggressive promotion of domestic travels as a way to revive the tourism industry, which was severely affected by the pandemic. For the past months, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has been emphasizing the role of domestic tourism in the industry’s recovery. Since international trips are still very limited, travels to local areas will be more accessible. It’s also deemed safer, compared to crossing foreign borders.
For these reasons, the tourism department is proactive in regaining travelers’ confidence, inspecting hotspots to ensure compliance with proper health and safety measures and authorizing certificates among tourism establishments before running operations.
This, coupled with efficient transportation infrastructure, can spur domestic tourism gradually and sustain industry growth in the years ahead.
Sources: Malaya, Sunstar, Manila Bulletin, PNA, DOT