The construction of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Extension, the Philippines’ first airport-bound highspeed railway, will create 10,000 jobs and cut down travel time between Metro Manila and Clark to only about an hour, Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koshikawa Kazuhiko said over the weekend.
Koshikawa made this statement at the start of the construction of the Philippine National Railways’ Clark Phase 2 on Saturday, Sept. 19.
The railway segment plans to “seamlessly” link PNR Clark 1 line in Tutuban to Malolos, Bulacan (38 kilometers) and the PNR Clark 2 line from Malolos to Clark International Airport (58 kilometers).
In January 2019, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement that would provide an Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) loan to the Philippines amounting to JPY167.199 billion ($1.54 billion) for the 109-kilometer NSCR extension project.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is co-financing the project.
The loan funds of the Japan ODA will be used to procure rolling stock, a railway system and consulting services, while the ADB assistance will be utilized for civil works.
According to JICA, the Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) will apply to the Japanese ODA loan for the project that will involve the transfer of advanced Japanese technology such as safe and punctual signaling systems and rolling stock that is lightweight and energy-efficient.
The Japanese funding agency said the project aims to strengthen the connectivity of urban transportation and enhance the transportation capacity in and around Metro Manila.
The railway extension forms part of the 147-kilometer NSCR project extending the North-South Commuter Railway to Clark International Airport in Pampanga Province in the north and to Calamba of Laguna Province in the south.
An ODA loan agreement for the NSCR was first signed in November 2015 during the time of the Aquino administration. The total cost of the NSCR project, including the extension, is P628.42 billion ($12.03 billion).
The entire 147-kilometer NSCR project that stretches from Laguna to Clark in Pampanga will have a total of 35 stations and 464 train cars with 58 eight-car train sets configuration.
It will also link existing railway lines – Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2, the MRT3, and the upcoming Metro Manila Subway.
The NSCR project is targeted for completion in September 2025.