THE Philippines government has unveiled a Railway Development Plan that aims to modernise and significantly expand the country’s railway network. The government says the plan will boost the economy, reduce traffic congestion, enhance connectivity, reduce carbon emissions and enhance food security across the archipelago.

Full costings have not yet been revealed, but the plan refers to a multi-billion-dollar investment programme, involving the construction of new lines, integration of existing railway infrastructure and introduction of modern rail technology systems.

The plan proposes the development of a high-speed rail network, suburban commuter lines and inter-island connections, marking a shift toward sustainable public transport.

One of the major flagship projects to be announced soon is the North Luzon Railway, also known as The Amianan Express. This 1300km high-speed and commuter line will connect the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga and the Cagayan Export Zone in Cagayan Valley to 12 provinces in the region.

Another project included in the plan is the Mindanao Railway, also known as The Eagle Express. This 1500km high-speed line will connect key cities on the island of Mindanao.

New lines will be built in Bicol on the southern end of Luzon, Palawan island and Visayas island group, according to the plan, to help bridge the gap between rural and urban areas and unlock opportunities for economic development. The plan also provides for the establishment of the country’s first railway academy, that will provide well-trained engineers and railway specialists.

  • Separately, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has endorsed Philtrak consortium proposals to convert at grade decommissioned lines to bus rapid transit (BRT), using hybrid electric road train (Hert) technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology (Dost). Former Philippine National Railways lines in Luzon and those of Panay Railways in the Visayas are being replaced by new elevated rail lines. The vacated trackbeds will be used to create a farm-to-market digital logistics integrated backbone” (FMDLIB) system that will carry both agricultural produce and passengers.
  • In a further rail-related development, on May 27 DoTr announced that it is seeking consultants to conduct a feasibility study for an extension of the Subic - Clark freight railway. The project is part of DoTr's plan to create a logistics hub in central Luzon, which will link the Port of Subic in Zambales to Clark, Pampanga.