THE Philippines government has signed agreements with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) for official development assistance (ODA) loans up to Yen 377bn ($US 2.8bn) for two Manila commuter rail projects.

The two projects are both sections of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR), a 147km route under construction to improve connectivity and alleviate congestion within the Greater Manila area.

NSCR Project (Malolos - Tutuban) (II), running from Malolos, the Bulacan provincial capital, to Tutuban in Manila, will receive a loan of Yen 107bn.

Special terms for economic partnership (STEP) will apply to the Japanese ODA loan for this project. Japanese technology to be supplied will include electrical and mechanical systems, signalling and rolling stock. This project also has sustainable development goals (SDG) of boosting economic development in the areas through which the line passes, climate objectives of reducing pollution, and industry, innovation and infrastructure aims of developing local skills.

The executive agency overseeing this project is the Philippines Department of Transportation (DoTr) and completion is expected in November 2025.

The second project receiving a Yen 270bn loanis the NSCR Extension Project (II), which aims to alleviate serious traffic congestion by extending the NSCR from Malolos to Clark International Airport and also from Solis to Calamba.

As well as achieving the same SDG and environmental goals as the Malolos - Tutuban project, and having the same STEP requirements, it is expected that the second project will contribute to the expansion of Metro Manila’s economic sphere and to the improvement of the investment environment in the areas which it serves. 

DoTr is again the project’s overseeing agency and completion is expected in April 2028.

New contracts awarded

Meanwhile, on February 21 DoTr awarded a contract with a total value of Pesos 389.6bn covering the civil engineering works on the Solis - Blumentritt section of the NSCR Extension Project to a joint venture of the Indonesian state-owned enterprises PT Adhi Karya and PT PP. The contract involves building a viaduct and elevated station at Blumemtritt on a 1.2km section which must be completed within 1460 calendar days.

A separate contract for a further viaduct structure and elevated stations on the extension to Calamba has been awarded to a joint venture of Acciona Construction Philippines - a local branch of a Spanish multinational - and DM Consunji (DMCI) with a total value of nearly Pesos 29bn, including $US 72.31m and €5.07m. The elevated stations will be at España, Santa Mesa and Paco. DoT stipulates that this 7.9km project should be completed within 1612 calendar days.

Further contracts are due to be awarded in March and DoTr says that to speed up construction of the NSCR it will suspend Philippine National Railways (PNR) services from Governor Pascual, Malabon City, to Calamba, and from Alabang, Muntinlupa City, to Calamba for five years from May.

This will be followed by a suspension of services between Alabang and Tutuban, Manila, in October, with these measures helping to speed up NSCR civil works by eight months and allowing the government to save Pesos 15.18bn through expedited land acquisition and relocation of utilities.

Special bus route franchises will be issued to transport the estimated 30,000 passengers likely to be affected by the PNR line closures.

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