PHILIPPINE National Railways (PNR) has announced the start of construction on the 147.26km North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR), running from Clark in Pampanga province via the centre of Manila to Calamba City in Laguna.

This follows the signing in April of construction contracts for the 56km central section of the project.

A joint venture of Acciona Construction Philippines and DM Consunji has been awarded the S02 package worth Pesos 28bn ($US 505.1m), covering the construction of 7.9km of elevated alignment and stations at España, Santa Mesa and Paco.

Package SO3B covers 6.1km of civil engineering and tunnelling work, including construction of Food Terminal Junction (FTI) station, and has been awarded to a joint venture of Leighton Contractors Asia and First Balfour for Pesos 23.9bn.

Funding for the Pesos 873.62bn NSCR is being provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

Sumitomo and Japan Transport Engineering are supplying a fleet of 13 EMUs for initial operations on the NSCR. Each train has 13 cars.

Once completed, NSCR will have capacity to carry up to 800,000 passengers a day. The journey time from Clark to Calamba will be reduced by 50% from four hours to two hours.

According to Mr Michael Ted Macapagal, who was appointed as PNR chair on April 28, NSCR will help to ease traffic congestion not only in Manila itself but also in neighbouring provinces,

He says that the project will be completed during the six-year term of the current president of the Philippines, Mr Ferdinand Marcos, who took up office on June 30 2022.

According to Macapagal, Marcos will be remembered as “the father of the Philippine railway system.”

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