Bautista PNR chair Michael Ted Macapagal (right) and DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista confer on the progress of the NSCR construction.

PNR to field buses when trains stop operation

June 7, 2023 People's Tonight 344 views

THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) has instructed the Philippine National Railways (PNR) to provide an alternative means of transportation for the thousands of commuters who are set to be affected when the trains stop operation on July 2 to make way for the construction of the P873.62 billion North-South Commuter Railway.

PNR Chairman Michael Ted Macapagal said that on orders of DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista, he is coordinating closely with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to ensure timely implementation of the bus augmentation plan. Under that plan, LFTRB will approve the franchise of additional buses plying the roads on the affected train routes.

PNR and LTFRB are attached agencies of DOTr’s.

It is estimated that 30,000 people ride the trains that pass through Malabon, Tutuban, Sta. Mesa, Makati, Alabang, and Calamba. The number was much bigger—70,000—before the Covid 19 pandemic struck.

According to Macapagal, the original proposal was to relocate the tracks so that the trains could continue operation even while construction is underway. The proposal was shelved because that would entail a substantial expense, up to P4 billion, and disrupt the progress of the civil works project.

The DOTr chief wants to adhere strictly to the five-year timetable, Macapagal said.

Barely a year in office, Bautista has seen 12 contracts bid out and awarded. The contracts have an average cost of P20 billion each.

Macapagal noted the speed with which DOTr implements the vision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is unprecedented.

“Observers on the economic front attribute it to the fact that Secretary Bautista is no politician,” Macapagal said. “He used to move in the corporate world. It is his nature to hurry things up, once convinced he is on the right path. It helps that he has the support of the business community.”

NSCR will run for 147 kilometers, from Clark in Pampanga to Metro Manila and, finally, to Calamba City in Laguna.

Once the project is completed, PNR will be able to ferry 800,000 passengers everyday safely and in comfort. Travel time on the entire length of the railway system will be cut in half, from four hours to two hours.

A total of 51 local train sets and seven express train sets will be deployed. The local trains load and unload passengers in each of the 35 stations, while the express trains are faster since they make fewer stops.

Two Japanese firms, Sumitomo Corporation (SC) and Japan Transport Engineering Company (JTEC), will supply the trains.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are financing the project.