Aquino’s biggest infra project: P171B north-south railway | Inquirer News

Aquino’s biggest infra project: P171B north-south railway

NAGA CITY, Philippines—The Aquino administration is set to award in March next year a P171-billion contract for its biggest and most ambitious transportation project—a 600-km railway from Tuguegarao City in northern Luzon’s Cagayan Valley to Matnog, Sorsogon province, in the southern tip of Luzon.

President Aquino, who attended a multisectoral forum held as part of the commemoration of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s third death anniversary, said the project, targeted for completion in 2021, would be funded by a concessional loan from the Japanese government.

“Fortunately, the loan was released to us in full. It was not given in installment to expedite the construction of the train system,” the President said.


Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, also at the forum, announced the start of the prequalification bidding for Luzon’s north-south railway in October.


According to Abaya, the project was indeed the biggest infrastructure program the Aquino administration would undertake, noting that the project cost was almost four times bigger than the annual budget of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

He said the government had already completed the initial prequalification process last year which was participated in by local and foreign companies. The October prequalification bidding will short-list the qualified bidders.

“In other words, we are now shortlisting (the interested bidders). Foreign (train) operators also signified their intention to (participate). I expect that the contract would be awarded as scheduled by March,” Abaya said.

“The interested bidders presented to us (their plans) and we will determine which of them are legally and technically qualified for this project,” he added.

Abaya said it would take four years to finish the construction of the train system, which would commence in 2017, or a year after Aquino ends his six-year term. He said the detailed engineering design of the project alone would take up to 18 months to complete.

“This is a big and complicated project… By 2021 we are confident that this railway will be operational.”


Abaya said the southern portion of the train system would start from Tutuban station in Manila and would traverse Calamba City, Laguna province, up to Legazpi City in Albay province. It would have an extension to Matnog and a separate lane going to Batangas province, Abaya said.

(The previous “Bicol Express” railway from Manila to Legazpi City stopped operations in 2006 after most of the tracks were destroyed by Typhoon “Reming.”)–Marlon Ramos and Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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