Philippines Government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed loan agreements totalling JPY 377 billion (USD 2.8 billion) which will support two important Manila commuter rail projects part of the 163 km North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) system.
JPY 107 billion (USD 793.9 million) is the funding provided for the NSCR Malolos – Tutuban railway line linking Manila and Bulacan. Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) will apply for the project covering the acquisition of Japanese technology, including electrical and mechanical (E&M) systems, stable operation and management systems and energy efficient rolling stock. The objective of the project is to strengthen the transportation network and decongest Metro Manila through the development of a new railway running from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban, Manila, thereby contributing to the expansion of Metro Manila’s economic sphere and the alleviation of air pollution.
NSCR Malolos – Manila which runs from Tutuban (in Manila) to Malolos City, Bulacan, has a total length of 38 km and is estimated at PHP 149 billion (USD 2.7 billion). Groundbreaking for the project was held in February 2019 and currently the physical completion is around 60%.
The project is expected to be completed in November 2025 and will carry up to 200,000 passengers each day.
A JPY 270 billion (USD 2 billion) loan is provided for the North-South Commuter Railway extension project which will alleviate serious traffic congestion in the Greater Capital Region. The Clark extension has a length of 53 km starting from Malolos towards Clark Economic Zone. Partial operation is targeted in third quarter of 2023 while full operation is in fourth quarter of 2024.
The project covers the extension of the NSCR from Malolos to Clark International Airport and from Solis to Calamba which will mitigate air pollution and help to achieve climate change objectives. The project will also contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goals 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), and 13 (Climate action). The project should be completed in April 2028.
According to a statement made by Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr), these two Manila commuter rail projects will be completed by the end of 2024 when will deliver more sustainable transport, will reduce travel time, and allow greater connectivity between Central Luzon and Calabarzon. The two systems will provide connections through the 35 stations built across 28 local government districts from Mabalacat in Pampanga to Calamba in Laguna.
In 2019, joint venture comprising Japan Transport Engineering Company (J-TREC) and Sumitomo won a contract to supply 13 8-car trains (104 railcars) for the NSCR and in March 2022 the first trainset has been unveiled. At the same ceremony, DOTr ordered 38 8-car additional trains (304 coaches) worth JPY 72.5 billion (USD 537.8 million). The new trains are expected to be delivered in 2028. The trains are designed to run at a speed of 160 km/h and are equipped with the ETCS Level 2 signalling system. In addition, they will be fitted with with automatic train operation to increase the safety.
In November, DOTr signed a USD 814 million contract with Hitachi Rail to supply electrical and mechanical systems and track works including digital signalling for the 35.4 km Solis – Malolos NSCR section.