More transport enhancements coming up

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    More good news are coming to commuters as San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has started work on a 1.2-kilometer road that will link two major expressways while the Philippine National Railways (PNR) began operating the new train sets that will beef up PNR Metro Commuter Line.

    In a statement, SMC said the project, which runs from Circumferential road 3 all the way to Santa Mesa, Manila. will connect the 18-km. Skyway Stage 3 and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.’s (MPTC) North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) connector road project.

    Ramon Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer, said the company is “working on what’s workable” in order to mitigate delays in right of way (ROW) acquisition for the connection, located at the Nagtahan to Sta. Mesa areas in Manila.

    The connection, part of the detailed engineering design of the Skyway 3 project, can be completed within 24 months or less, soon as the ROW issues with the landowners are resolved, Ang said.

    Ideally, the connection would be completed before or by the time the NLEX connector road is finished.

    “Originally, this was supposed to be delivered December 2020, but it’s now pushed back.

    But we want to assure the public and government that we will do everything to complete it in less than 24 months, once we get the ROW,” Ang said.

    “We’re already mobilizing our contractors to start work in areas that are unobstructed, where we’re permitted to work. We’re also already committing the funds needed to buy the ROW properties, so hopefully, these issues will be resolved the soonest,” Ang added.

    Meanwhile, NLEX Corp., subsidiary of MPTC, is targeting to start partial operations of the first five kilometers of the NLEX connector road by yearend, with the full completion set by 2022.

    To date, the government has delivered 81 percent of the ROW requirements for the whole alignment, while construction progress is at 16 percent.

    Skyway Stage 3 has recently started operating, cutting travel time from Buendia to Balintawak from two hours to just 15 to 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, PNR yesterday held a  ceremonial class assignment and inaugural run of the three new diesel hydraulic locomotives from Indonesia that will double the existing capacity of the PNR Metro Commuter Line, which runs from the Tutuban Station in Manila to Los Baños, Laguna.

    Each locomotive has 15 passenger coaches was held from the PNR Dela Rosa Station in Makati to the Tutuban Station.

    A ceremonial class assignment and inaugural run of the three new diesel hydraulic locomotives with 15 passenger coaches was held from the PNR Dela Rosa Station in Makati to the Tutuban Station.

    The new train sets are part of the PNR management’s re-fleeting strategy, which involves the delivery of train sets composed of 37 cars and three locomotives procured in 2018.

    The re-fleeting project aims to increase the PNR’s capacity to accommodate 1,330 passengers per set in a single trip.

    The train sets have a maximum design speed of 120 kilometers per hour, with high clearance for flooded tracks. Each train set features an interior access to the engine room, the first of its kind for the PNR fleet.

    The train sets are also equipped with 36,000 kilocalories per hour of air conditioning in each coach that is suitable for tropical countries like the Philippines.

    Meanwhile, the DOTr said it is on track to start partial operations of PNR Clark Phase 1 from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban this December. This rail line is part of the massive North-South Commuter Railway project.

    As of end-December 2020, the project’s overall progress rate stood at 42.66 percent, the DOTr said.

    Upon completion, PNR Clark Phase 1 is projected to reduce the travel time from Tutuban to Malolos from 1 hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes, with a scheduled partial operability seen by the end of this year upon the arrival of its first set of trains.