Structural works for PNR Clark 1 completed

The structural works for the Balagtas Station of the P106-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark 1 (Tutuban-Malolos) is now 100 per cent complete, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced Friday, April 22.

The project is the first segment of the North-South Commuter Railways (NSCR) System. The completion of the PNR Clark 1 Balagtas Station is a key component of the overall realization of the NSCR project, the DOTr underscored.

The PNR Clark 1 will traverse the cities of Manila, Caloocan, and Valenzuela as well as the municipalities of Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos City, all in Bulacan.

Once completed, it will cut travel time from Tutuban, Manila to Malolos, Bulacan from the current 1 hour and 30 minutes to just 30 minutes.

As of end 2021, the P123-billion PNR Clark 2 has a 35 percent overall progress rate while the ₱344.6 billion PNR Calamba has an almost 30 percent overall progress rate.

The government first attempted to build the NSCR in 1994, together with the government of Spain and the private sector. At the time, it was known as the Northrail Project.

The 2nd attempt was in 1999, together with the government of Japan (JBIC) and the 3rd, in 2004 together with the government of South Korea, when it was called the North-South Linkage Project.

For the fourth time, the government tried to implement the Northrail Project in 2002-2011, together with the government of China.

After more than two decades and attempts of four administrations to implement, as of June 2016, the 147-km., 35 stations NSCR Project, had zero awarded contracts, zero physical progress, and zero trains ordered.

Worse, the latest attempt to implement the project ended up in a prolonged legal battle (Northrail vs. SINOMACH), which threatened to delay the NSCR in June ,2016.

In 2017, Northrail ex-officio Chairman, and BCDA President Vince Dizon, concluded an out-of-court Settlement Agreement with SINOMACH, which saved the Philippine government more than P5 billion ($100 million) in potential payment of claims and hundreds of millions more in legal fees and arbitration costs.

More importantly, the Settlement Agreement removed this legal obstacle to the progress of the NSCR Project.

Now, with assistance from the Japanese Government / Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos; 38 km.) and PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark; 53 km.) are now being built.

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