December 7, 2017
The Department of Transportation (DOTR) takes a major step towards the construction of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project (Malolos – Tutuban) through the awarding of the consulting contract to Japanese consortium led by Oriental Consultants Global, as part of its ongoing efforts to improve the transport system within and beyond Metro Manila.
The official contract signing ceremony took place recently at DOTr's Clark main office, Angeles City, witnessed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The 37.6 kilometer NSCR will be the Philippines' new elevated railway expected to help reduce travel time from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila from 2 hours to 35 minutes and allow economic activities to spread out to the surrounding areas of Metro Manila. Aside from this, the NSCR will use advanced Japanese technologies including seismic designs from Japan to make the infrastructure disaster-resilient.
The NSCR project is being assisted by Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan to the Philippines amounting to 241.991 billion yen signed in November 2015. It is considered as a flagship project to help advance the Philippine government's Build Build Build program which aims at tapping infrastructure investment for socio-economic development.
"JICA has consistently supported transport infrastructure development in the Philippines since the 1960s. The NSCR project will be the game changer by kick-starting the large scale investment by the current administration through building a modern railway network for achieving the twin goals of addressing the serious traffic congestion in Metro Manila and enhancing the connectivity of Metro Manila and its nearby areas, thus expanding Manila's economic sphere", said JICA Philippines Senior Representative Tetsuya Yamada at the signing ceremony.
According to Yamada, in addition to the NSCR project, JICA is currently extending support in conducting feasibility studies and detailed design studies for railway services extending the NSCR to both North and South, Malolos to Clark and Solis to Los Baños, respectively.
The NSCR is part of the cooperation agenda identified between Japan and the Philippines during the first Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation meeting in Japan early this year.
Prior to that, the Philippine government has approved the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas in 2014. Under the roadmap, the creation of two mass transit systems penetrating Metro Manila from North to South, namely the NSCR and the Metro Manila Subway project, for which JICA has also committed its loan in November this year, is eyed to alleviate overconcentration in Metro Manila by improving its connectivity to the suburbs.
Although Metro Manila accounts for 36% of the country's GDP with population density of 19,137 people for every square kilometer, according to the above Roadmap study, it has only three elevated railway lines with a total length of about 50 kilometers operating.
The NSCR project is therefore expected to help establish a transport corridor connecting Metro Manila to its north and south, while giving options to commuters, and contributing to the country's economic competitiveness in the long term.
Moving forward the North-South Commuter Railway project to ease traffic
DOTR Secretary Arthur Tugade and Oriental Consultants Global Manila General Manager Yuji Asano during the awarding of the consulting contract