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WHAT WENT BEFORE: The Northrail Project

/ 05:42 AM January 17, 2019

The Northrail Project of the Arroyo administration has been revived as the Philippine National Railway Clark (PNR Clark), one of the “big-ticket projects” of the Duterte administration.

As planned during the term of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Northrail would extend the line in Manila northward to Bulacan province. Its first section would extend from the old Tutuban station in Manila to Malolos in Bulacan.

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In 2008, Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., star witness in the Senate inquiry into the controversial NBN-ZTE deal, disclosed that the Chinese businessmen, whom then Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. met with in January 2007, said they had been promised that the NBN project would be done on a loan basis just like the Northrail.

Then Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile also alleged that then Speaker Jose de Venecia was the main lobbyist for the project which, he said, was exorbitantly priced at $503 million for a 32-kilometer railroad.

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Enrile said the terms of the loan were skewed unfairly in China’s favor.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in February last year that it was reviving the PNR system with a line to the north as part of a bigger development plan for Clark and other cities outside Metro Manila,

Phase 1 is the 38-km segment from Tutuban to Malolos, with 10 stations. It is expected to service 340,000 people daily in its opening year and would take 35 minutes for the trip.

The contract for the construction supervision and tender assistance consultant for PNR Clark Phase 1 was signed on Dec. 1, 2017.

In April last year, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said preconstruction activities for Phase 1 started in January with actual construction targeted by November last year.

Phase 2 is a 69-km stretch from Malolos to Clark Field in Pampanga province.

It will have 17 stations—Tutuban, Solis, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, Malolos, Calumpit, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, Clark International Airport and New Clark City.

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The DOTr expects to complete the P225-billion Manila-Clark railway project in 2020. A trip to Clark International Airport from Metro Manila is expected to take 55 minutes. —Inquirer Research

SOURCES: INQUIRER ARCHIVES, DOTR WEBPAGE AND FB

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TAGS: Benjamin Abalos Sr., Jose de Venecia, Juan Ponce Enriel, Northrail Project, Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., What Went Before
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