P700B rail projects set

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    The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is projected to invest over P700 billion in the next five years to build and expand the mass rail transit projects in Luzon and Mindanao.

    Timothy John Batan, DOTr undersecretary for railways, said in a virtual press briefing the capital expenditure for 11 rail projects from 2021 until 2025 amounts to P90.8 billion, P278.3 billion, P222.7 billion, P104.1 billion and P45.5 billion, respectively.

    These projects are the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line 1 Cavite Extension, LRT-2 East Extension, LRT-2 West Extension, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line 3 rehabilitation, MRT-4, Metro Manila Subway, Common Station, North-South Commuter Railway, Subic-Clark Railway, Philippine National Railways South Long-Haul Project and the Mindanao Railway Project.

    Of the 11 projects, those in advance stages are the LRT-1 extension which is set to start partial operation this year, LRT-2 East and West extension and the Common Station.

    Batan said the railway projects will be largely funded by official development assistance loans from Japan International Cooperation Agency amounting to P796.58 billion; Asian Development Bank, P444.6 billion; and the Chinese government, P307.04 billion.

    A portion of the project will be funded by public-private partnership for P107.76 billion and the General Appropriations Act for P13.07 billion, according to the DOTr.

    As of end-2020, the total project cost of investment-approved rail projects stood at P1.7 trillion, higher from the P528.5 billion in 2016.

    Batan said the total route length of the country’s railway will increase to 1,209 kilometers in 2022 from 77 km. in 2016, once most of the projects are completed next year.

    He added the number of railway stations will increase from 61 in 2016 to 168 stations in 2022, while the number of trains will rise to 1,381 from 224 trains.

    These railway infrastructure projects will help resolve traffic congestion in Metro Manila as railways carry more passengers compared to other public transportation such as jeepney, bus and taxi cars.

    The annual direct economic cost of congestion in the Greater Capital Region amounted to P1.277 trillion as of 2017 and this is projected to go down once major projects are completed.

    The Duterte administration is investing P7.74 trillion in infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build Program until 2022.