New trains for NSCRP to start arriving before end of 2021
By Robina Asido
New trains that are part of the North-South Commuter Railway Project (NSCRP), which the Asian Development Bank calls as its single largest project, will begin to arrive before the end of the year.
"The first train will be coming in December 2021, so the contractor will install our first set of tracks for our new trains to sit in, so there is a reality and the new trains are coming in," Philippine National Railway (PNR) Assistant General Manager Celeste Lauta said in a briefing on Saturday.
Asian Development Bank Country Director Kelly Bird emphasized how fast the project was processed considering that the NSCR project "is the largest project that the ADB has prepared, not only in the Philippines".
"In terms of speed feasibility to ADB approval it was done in record time. You know when we think about it (working) with DOTr (Department of Transportation|) and the government of Japan, the feasibility from approval was approximately 18 months and for the large complex project like this one... that is the very fast time in processing a project, equally fast is enable to make the awards to the contract about 12 months later," he said.
Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said "the total budget cost for the entire NSCR that (includes) PNR -Clark Phase one and PNR-Clark phase two and PNR Calamba is P777.55 billion.''
"As mentioned earlier this is the single largest project of the Asian Development Bank with more than $7 billion commitment before the Philippines. In 2016 the single largest project of the ADB was a $1.5 billion railway project in Bangladesh," he said.
Batan added that the NSCR project "is also the longest commuter railway project of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
"They committed $2.7 billion for phase two and we are currently working on the next tranche of $4.3 billion for PNR Calamba," he said.
JICA Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa said the NSCR project is the symbol of partnership between Japan and the Philippines.
"As JICA Chief Representative I feel very much honored to participate in this Build, Build Build program. This is kind of the symbol of this partnership and JICA is happy in this project," he said.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko said the Japanese government will continue to promote transfer of technology, maintenance knowledge, and promotion of Filipino human capital for the railway operations of the NSCR.
“Time and again, we commit our continuous support to President Duterte’s Build, Build, Build Program. Japan will further commit cooperation such as the procurement of rolling stocks and development of the railroad system through JICA-ODA support,” he said.
Assistant Transportation Secretary for Procurement Giovanni Lopez also emphasized the directive of Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade to prioritize the hiring of OFWs and local workers especially those who are affected by the pandemic.
"The entire NSCR project will create and provide 25,000 jobs but for PNR Clark Phase two alone I think it will create 7,000 jobs and this is a direct employment and other opportunities," he said.
"I want to emphasize the instruction of Secretary Tugade especially to the rail sectors and our private contractors for employment opportunities, for this kind of project the secretary wants the OFWs, the local workers, especially those who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to be prioritized for this employment. I think that is what is more important," he added.
Batan said the North-South Commuter Railway will be partially operational by 2023 and will be fully operational for Clark Phase One and Clark Phase Two by 2024 while the Calamba is set to be partially operational by 2025 and fully operational by 2028. DMS