The Department of Transportation moved the completion date of the P150-billion Philippine National Railways Clark Phase 2 Project to June 2025 from an earlier target of October 2024 because of some “issues.”
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the agency was working with the contractor of the Malolos-Clark segment to thresh out issues and complete the project on time.
“This is a very important part of the NSCR [North-South Commuter Railway], considering the operations control center of the project will be located here. The operations control center is the heart of the operations,” Bautista said during a site visit at PNR Clark Phase 2 in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
Bautista underscored the importance of working with the contractor to complete the project “on time” and prevent further delays.
POSCO Engineering & Construction, the project contractor, cited the delayed turnover of land as a cause for the revised completion date of the project.
It said that before the 36-hectare site was turned over by the government to POSCO, several fruit-bearing trees had to be cut down, causing the delay. POSCO said it would construct 48 buildings and facilities at the depot site.
Clark Depot will have 33 stabling tracks to serve as parking area for the trains and 12 other tracks to access the maintenance facilities.
The contractor said that as of December 2022, more than 33 percent of the planned construction was completed.
“It is important that we complete this as planned and on time. I know that there are issues that need to be resolved. The DOTr will work closely with [the contractor], so we can fix problems and address issues [about the project],” Bautista said.
He said the project would be finished within the timeframe provided to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“We promised the president that we will finish the project as agreed on the timeline that we set. I just want to see to it that we work together and finish this project on time,” he said.
Funded by the Asian Development Bank, PNR Clark Phase 2 is the second leg of the North-South Commuter Rail Project which aims to link cities and municipalities in Central Luzon with Metro Manila and help spur economic activity in nearby provinces.
Once completed, the 53-kilometer rail line is expected to cut travel time between Malolos, Bulacan and Clark, Pampanga from 1.5 hours to just 30 minutes. It will also feature the country’s first Airport Railway Express Service, which will connect Makati to Clark International Airport in just 55 minutes.
Phase 2 forms part of the massive 147-km. NSCR line which will have 35 stations and operate 464 train cars, with 58 eight-car train sets configuration.
The P777.55-billion NSCR System is the single largest infrastructure project funded by the ADB and is the longest greenfield commuter railway project to be financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.