CONSTRUCTION on the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) extension project (NSCR-Ex) in Manila, the Philippines, has begun following a ceremony on September 18. The ceremony was attended by transportation under-secretary, Mr Timothy John Batan, Asian Development Bank (ADB) director general, Mr Ramesh Subramaniam, and the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines, Mr Koshikawa Kazuhiro, who took part in a joint site inspection at the Clark International Airport Station in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

The under-construction NSCR will run from Calamba, Laguna, in Luzon’s southern region, to the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, cutting end-to-end journey times from four hours to 1h 30min. The 38km Phase one will run from Tutuban Station in Manila to Malolos City, Bulacan; the 54km PNR Clark Phase two will run from Malolos to Clark; and the 55km Phase three will run from Manila to Calamba. The project is being implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

The NSCR-Ex project will extend the line by 18.1km past Clark International Airport to New Clark City, and promises to alleviate traffic congestion, improving the investment environment, and mitigating the effects of air pollution and climate change.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is funding the procurement of the rolling stock and railway systems, while the ADB is financing the infrastructure. The line will use Japanese trains, which are designed to withstand earthquakes and flooding.

An Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the NSCR-Ex alignment was issued in August 2018, but further studies were required after the alignment was altered to avoid the Bamban Hills which have cultural, natural and historical significance.

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