LRT-MRT common station breaks ground

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 29) — By 2020, New York might not be the only part of the world with a "Grand Central Station."

Transport officials on Friday led the groundbreaking of the long-awaited Unified Grand Central Station on EDSA.

The station will link four major metro train systems: the MRT-3, LRT-1, the MRT-7 that is under construction and the Metro Manila Subway, which was greenlit for construction on September 14.

Read: Metro Manila subway project gets greenlight

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the station is a game-changer in public transport and is expected to benefit at least half a million passengers every day.

Years in the works

The groundbreaking came after years of disputes over the location of the station.

The common station project started in 2009 when the Light Rail Transit Authority signed a deal with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI) to have the station built near SM North EDSA. It was put on hold the same year due to legal issues.

However, the then-Department of Transportation and Communications decided in 2014 to build the common station near TriNoma, a rival mall across the street from SM North EDSA, to cut costs.

SMPHI took the matter to the Supreme Court, which issued a temporary restraining order in favor of SMPHI to stop the construction of the common station near TriNoma.

The dispute was finally resolved in September 2016, when SM and Ayala signed a memorandum of understanding to build the station between the two malls.

Read: Finally: A common station for LRT, MRT lines

In January 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with private companies and government agencies to start construction of the station.

Read: Common station linking MRT, LRT to be built this year

Comfort and convenience

The MOA contains the design parameters for the common station, which will be the basis of the detailed designs that will be developed after the signing.

The station, which will be located at the North Avenue station of the MRT-3, is being built under a Public-Private Partnership Project and will cost ₱2.8 billion.

The DOTr said that passenger comfort and ease of transfer are the primary considerations of the project as passengers will only have to walk between 50 to 200 meters to get to their trains using the common station, with terminals for jeepneys, buses and UV express shuttles located outside.

In addition, the plan includes a 13,700-square-meter main concourse so that commuters will no longer need to line up outside in the heat or under the rain.

Under the MOA, there will be three Areas located in the station:

Area A, the platform and concourse where LRT-1 and MRT-3 are located

Area B, where the two concourses connecting Areas A and C are located

Area C, where the platform for MRT-7 is located

According to the DOTr, Area A will be financed and built by the DOTr. The operation, maintenance, and development will be split between LRMC for LRT-1 and DOTr for MRT-3.

Meanwhile, Area B will be financed and built by the North Triangle Depot Commercial Corporation (NTDCC), an affiliate of Ayala Land Inc.  It will also be operated, maintained, and developed by the NTDCC.

Finally, Area C will be financed and built by San Miguel, who will also operate, maintain and develop the area.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.