DOTr: Malolos-Clark railway construction to start in November, partial operation seen by 2023

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 8) — The construction of the Malolos-Clark Railway Project will begin in November, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 2, from Malolos in Bulacan to Clark in Pampanga, is part of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Extension Project.

Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said the Malolos-Clark Railway is expected to partially operate by 2023 given that there are no delays in the construction.

The Phase 2 covers stations in Calumpit town in Bulacan, and in Apalit, San Fernando City, Angeles City, Clark and Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga.

Once it partially operates, the DOTr said the travel time from Malolos to Clark will be down to only 30 to 35 minutes from the usual one hour and 30 minutes.

The project’s construction was greenlighted after the three remaining contract packages for the segment have been signed on Thursday morning.

The DOTr explained these contract packages are necessary to complete the five civil works packages needed for the start of the construction.

Package 1 will be built by Megawide Construction and Korean partners Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Dong-Ah Geological Engineering.

It covers two station buildings, 17 kilometers of elevated rail viaduct, and seven balanced cantilever bridges from Malolos to Minalin town in Pampanga.

Package 2, meanwhile, will be constructed by the joint venture of Spanish conglomerate Acciona and Korean construction company Daelim Industrial.

The package includes one station building and 16 kilometers of elevated viaduct from the town of Minalin, Sto. Tomas up to San Fernando City.

Package 3, on the other hand, will be built by Thai construction firm Italian-Thai Development Public Company.

It encompasses two station buildings and 12 kilometers of elevated viaduct from San Fernando City, Angeles City, up to Mabalacat in Pampanga.

The packages cost ₱28.37 billion, ₱33.70 billion, and ₱22.77 billion respectively.

“I have always envied countries like [South] Korea, Spain, and Thailand where the transport facilities making the connectivity to their airports are fast, quick, and smooth,” Tugade said. “That’s why them serving as a model, we try to imitate them.”

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said the 53-kilometer railway from Malolos to Clark is expected to be completed by 2025.

The NSCR, meanwhile, is one of DOTr’s flagship infrastructure projects under the Duterte Administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” Program.

The 148-kilometer railway system stretches from Calamba, Laguna to CRK. It’s expected to serve over 830,000 passengers daily.

Aside from the PNR Clark Phase 2, the DOTr is targeting the Phase 1 from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos, Bulacan to partially operate by December 2021.

The PNR Calamba, meanwhile, is expected to partially operate by 2024. The 56-kilometer leg runs from Solis Street in Tondo, Manila to Calamba City.

The NSCR also features the country’s first Airport Express Service from CRK to Makati City.

The DOTr said travel time will be cut from more than two hours by car to only one hour via the Airport Express.

“Yung riles ho, ‘yung tren na itinatayo natin 160 kilometers per hour kaya nga express ho ito walang stop,” Tugade added.

[Translation: The railway, the train we are building will run for 160 kilometers per hour, that's why it's an express, it would be non-stop.]