Tutuban to Malolos railway on 43% completion rate

The completion of the first two segments of the massive North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project is on track, as Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade pushes to fast track the construction of big-ticket railway infrastructure projects to meet their target start of operations.

“We have a lot of catching up to do with so little time left. Itong proyekto na ito, gusto ko, agad ‘yang mapakinabangan ng tao. That’s why I have been pushing, and pressuring the Railway sector really hard to fast-track the construction works in the best way possible,” Secretary Tugade said.

The NSCR’s first leg, the PNR Clark Phase 1, which runs from Tutuban, Manila to Malolos, Bulacan, has an over-all progress rate of 43% and a construction phase rate of 11.78% as of 31 January 2021. This was made possible with continuous construction works amid COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.

“Yung PNR Clark Phase 1 po natin, ‘yung Tutuban to Malolos ay ongoing na po ang construction, 43% na po ang progress natin as of January 2021. Partially operable na po ito by the fourth quarter of 2021 and full operations in the second quarter of 2024,” Philippine National Railways (PNR) General Manager Junn Magno said during the DOTr Railway sector press briefing on 24 February 2021.

Magno added that the PNR Clark Phase 1 targets to slash travel time between Tutuban and Malolos from 1 hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes and increase railway capacity to 330,000 passengers per day.

Meanwhile, PNR Clark Phase 2, which will stretch from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga, has five (5) civil works contract packages signed.

GM Magno said the project’s development is likewise moving notably, with an over-all progress rate standing at 27.79% as of 31 January 2021. In this segment, there are ongoing pre-construction works and site visits. PNR Clark Phase 2 will have its groundbreaking in 2021.

Once completed, travel time between Bulacan and Pampanga will be slashed from the current 1 hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes.

GM Magno also emphasized that the PNR Clark Phase 2 features the country’s first airport express service. This means that travel time from Makati City going to Clark, Pampanga will only be around 55 minutes, compared to more than 2 hours of travel by car.

The 54-kilometer second segment of the NSCR will be partially operational by the second quarter of 2023, while the full operation is targeted by the third quarter of 2024. The segment aims to accommodate 150,000 passengers per day.

Moreover, GM Magno said improvements are being done to increase the number of PNR stations, routes, and trains.

He noted that in 2017, the rail line only serviced four (4) routes, 24 stations, and seven (7) train sets. However, through the agency’s relentless pursuit to transform the PNR, under the guidance of DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, the rail line now operates in seven (7) routes and 34 stations, with 11 train sets at the end of 2020.

“Itong mga bagong tren natin lalo na ‘yung mga bagong dineliver from Indonesia, ‘yung diesel hydraulic po natin ay babaybay po ‘yan sa baha. Hindi po titigil ang biyahe ng PNR lalo na kung magbaha ang Maynila. Ito lang po ‘yung paraan na maitatawid natin ang Maynila kahit po mataas ang tubig baha,” GM Magno said.

The diesel hydraulic locomotives (DHLs) are part of the PNR’s re-fleeting strategy in 2018. The new train sets will serve commuters on the railway’s Metro line (Tutuban, Malabon up to Los Baños, Laguna). With the additional DHL trains, the PNR Metro line targets to serve a total of 140,000 passengers daily, doubling its existing capacity of 48,000 to 60,000 per day. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION