ADB approves $2.75-B loan for Malolos-Clark train line

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $2.75-billion loan to fund the construction of a railway that will link Malolos, Bulacan to the Clark airport in Pampanga.

The Japan-led lender announced the approval on Thursday, saying it was the "single largest infrastructure project financing" ever granted by the ADB.

The amount will finance the construction of a 53.1-kilometer train line connecting Malolos to the Clark International Airport, which will also pass through the Clark economic zone in Pampanga.

This Malolos-Clark stretch is part of the 163-km North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project that will connect New Clark City to Manila, and will stretch to Calamba, Laguna south of the capital.

The project is split into two segments: a 51.2-km section from Malolos to Clark, and a 1.9-km extension line that will connect the NSCR to the Blumentritt station of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 in Manila.

The entire stretch of the North-South railway is set to be completed by 2025, but partial operations are targeted by 2022. Construction of the NSCR is co-financed by the ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, with the latter committing a $2-billion loan line.

READ: PH, Japan sign notes on ₱94-B worth of loans for infra projects

"The project, combined with other investments in light rail transit, metro rail transit, and subway systems, will bring back the culture of rail transport in Metro Manila," ADB President Takehiko Nakao said in a statement.

ADB will finance the construction of stations, bridges and viaducts for the elevated train tracks, as well as the tunnel that will connect to an underground station by the Clark airport.

Trains will run at a maximum of 160 km per hour, which will allow the railway to serve over 300,000 passengers daily and will cut travel time to less than an hour from end to end.