DOTr taps Japan bullet train supplier for Tutuban-Malolos railway

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Officials from the Philippines and Japan sign the train supply contract for phase one of the Philippine National Railways-Clark project in Pampanga on July 16, 2019.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) inked a ₱12.1-billion supply contract with a Japanese firm to supply 104 train cars for the planned Tutuban-Malolos railway line.

DOTr officials led the signing ceremony on Tuesday for the supply deal covering phase one of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark line, which will extend operations by linking Manila to Bulacan.

The ₱149.1-billion project forms part of the North-South Commuter Railway system, which is funded through official development assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Asian Development Bank. Japan is known globally for punctual and efficient train services.

DOTr chose the joint venture of the Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC) and its local partner Sumitomo Corp. to supply 13 train sets for the service, each made up of eight linked cars which can carry up to 2,200 passengers per trip.

J-TREC is the biggest supplier of passenger rail cars in Japan, which include the Shinkansen or high-speed train service as well as other commuter lines in the country. The company also supplied train sets for railways in Bangkok, Thailand.

Based on the contract signed Tuesday at the Clark Marriott Hotel, the trains are set to be delivered to the country between October-December 2021. However, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said he struck a verbal agreement with Japanese officials to have the trains here by the third quarter.

"Why are we agreeing to fast-track the manufacture of these trains? Because I have promised the President that we will have the partial operability the end of the fourth quarter of 2021," Tugade said in his speech during the signing ceremony.

PNR has already signed two construction contracts for the new train service with Sumitomo Corp. and with the joint venture of DMCI and Taisei Corp. The government still needs to award the contract for electro-mechanical components.

Once completed, the train line is expected to trim travel time between Malolos and Tutuban from one hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes. Trains are expected to serve 300,000 passengers daily, and will run at a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

Other PNR projects on the government's "Build, Build, Build' pipeline include the PNR link from Manila to the Clark International Airport and to New Clark City, and another that will run from Manila to Los Baños, Laguna.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Makoi Popioco contributed to this report.