Politics

Malolos-Clark rail project faces delay

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PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE MALOLOS-CLARK segment of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) will not be finished until 2025 as a result of the delayed turnover of the 36-hectare depot site in Clark, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said on Monday.

In a statement, the DoTr said the project contractor POSCO Engineering and Construction had cited the delayed turnover of the land as the reason for the extension of the completion date.

Transport Secretary Jaime J. Bautista on Monday inspected the Clark depot of the Malolos-Clark segment of the NSCR.

The project, which was originally planned for completion by October next year, is now expected to be completed by June 2025, according to the department.

The contractor has been tapped to construct 48 buildings and facilities at the depot site in Clark, Pampanga. It will have 33 stabling tracks to serve as a parking area for the trains and 12 other tracks to access the maintenance facilities.

More than 33% of the planned construction has been completed as of Dec. 31, 2022, the DoTr said.

“This is a very important part of the NSCR, considering the operations control center of the project will be located here,” Mr. Bautista said. “The operations control center is the heart of the operations.”

He said the department will work closely with the contractor to ensure the project’s completion in 2025.

“We promised the President that we will finish the project as agreed on the timeline that we set,” Mr. Bautista said. “I just want to see to it that we work together and finish this project on time.”

The project, which is supported by the Asian Development Bank through a $2.75-billion (P143.6-billion) loan, is the 53-kilometer segment of the 147-kilometer NSCR project, which will run from Clark all the way to the town of Calamba in Laguna.

The 53-kilometer rail line is expected to cut travel time between Malolos in Bulacan and Clark from 1.5 hours to just 30 minutes.

The entire NSCR system will have 37 stations, spanning 26 local government units, and connecting 3 regions.

The project will feature the country’s first airport express service, which will slash travel time between the Clark International Airport and Makati City from more than two hours by car, to just under one hour via the airport express, according to the DoTr. — Arjay L. Balinbin