JICA reiterates support for PH shift to rail transport and railway capacity development
As rapid urbanization confronts countries like the Philippines, an inconvenient truth to address deteriorating quality of life and mitigate climate change impacts lies ahead: encouraging shift to railway transport or mass public transport to improve living standards and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in urbanized cities.
This was among the points expressed by officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the recent 1st Philippine Railway Conference (PhilRailCon), citing that current JICA’s railway development cooperation can reduce at least 1 million tons of GHG emissions per year based on JICA study.
The PhilRailCon is the premier networking and collaboration event that brought together policymakers, industry leaders, scholars, and experts from around the world to discuss the latest trends and developments in the railway sector. It was hosted by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Philippine Railways Institute (PRI), Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) and JICA.
JICA Philippines’ Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema expressed before a crowd of government officials and stakeholders in the Philippine transport sector, led by DOTr Secretary Jaime J. Bautista, the benefits of expanding the railway network, including (1) more comfortable and safer public transportation, (2) reduced emissions that mitigate climate change impacts, (3) improved mobility that leads to job creation and poverty reduction, (4) reduced traffic congestion and improved quality infrastructure that attracts more investments, and (5) improved overall quality of life for Filipinos.
He also emphasized the importance of the role of PRI, including capacity development of railway human resource to realize safe, punctual and user-friendly railway operation.
In addition, JICA Infrastructure Management Department Deputy Director General KOYANAGI Yoshimoto said that apart from safety and better mobility options, it is also significant to look at sustainability issues. He shared that JICA has already integrated sustainability in its cooperation policy called Global Agenda of JICA, particularly in JICA’s framework for transportation that champions low carbon transportation such as railways.
Notably, in the Philippines, JICA and the Philippine government are working closely to complete major railway projects that include the Metro Manila Subway, North-South Commuter Railway, MRT3 Rehabilitation and Capacity Enhancement of Mass Transit Systems in Metro Manila (LRT 1 and 2), among others.
DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista said, “the big-ticket railway projects of the DOTr aims to resurrect the country’s once thriving rail industry while promoting a highly sustainable form of transportation.” DOTr Assistant Secretary for Railways Jorjette Aquino mentioned, “with improved access to the capital city, more job opportunities will be within reach for people, stimulating economic growth in regions.”
SAKAMOTO also said that “while a lot of progress has been made, there is still much more to be done, such as transit-oriented development (TOD), interoperability of railways, appropriate fare-setting, among others. In this context, JICA is really pleased to be able to share Japan’s knowhow, tips and lessons learned, in terms of human and institutional capacity development.”
For his part, JICA Expert Team leader for the Technical Assistance Project to Establish the PRI, HAGIWARA Takayuki noted that “since the establishment of the PRI, JICA has been sending experts and supporting capacity development in the Philippine railway sector. Numerous personnel of PRI have already gone to Japan under JICA’s programs to learn from the operations and maintenance of the Tokyo Metro Comprehensive Learning and Training Center and others”.
Through JICA’s comprehensive support in the Philippines’ railway sector including its assistance to PRI, JICA expects the Philippines to secure safe, reliable and user-friendly operation with proper maintenance of existing as well as the newly constructed railways.