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DOTr wants China to fund Manila-Bicol railway project

/ 11:28 PM June 26, 2017

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) plans to tap a loan from the Chinese government to build a railway project linking Manila to Bicol region, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Monday.

The planned connection, once part of the Public Private Partnership pipeline before the shift to overseas development assistance funding, will be done via a massive southern railway project split into separate components by the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

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The South Long Haul project, a P151-billion train line that spans 581 kilometers, will run through Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon provinces.

There will also be a short-haul component called the PNR South Commuter. The government’s “Build Build Build” online infrastructure portal identified this as a P134-billion train line that would span 72 kilometers and link Manila to Los Baños town in Laguna province.

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Tugade said they were targeting loan deals from China to fund those projects.

“We would like to have partnerships with countries using their own technologies,” Tugade told reporters at the sidelines of a station marking event for the PNR’s P255-billion Manila to Clark Railway project.

“It stands [to] reason that we spread out the market,” Tugade added.

In line with this, the DOTr is tapping the Japan International Cooperation Agency for its Manila-Clark train project, which it hopes to complete before the end of 2021 (see related story below).

Meanwhile, days before the PNR implements its first fare hike in more than 20 years, Sen. Leila de Lima urged her colleagues in Congress to take up a bill she filed last year seeking the rehabilitation of the country’s oldest railway system.

In a statement, De Lima said that while the fare increase seemed to be the only immediate solution to shoulder the maintenance of the trains, amending the PNR law was necessary to address long-term gaps.

“Before even choosing to hike the fare, let us instead revise the governing law of the PNR to fast-track the rehabilitation and revitalization of the train infrastructure,” she added.

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Starting on July 1, the PNR’s minimum fare for the first 14 kilometers will go up to P15 from P10. An additional P5 will be charged for every succeeding 7 kilometers. —WITH A REPORT FROM JOCELYN R. UY

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TAGS: Arthur Tugade, Department of Transportation, Manila-Bicol railway project
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