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PH studying $2.5-b Luzon railways

Manila Standard Today, 30 August 2013

LEGAZPI City—The feasibility study for the proposed $2.5-billion Philippine National Railways integrated Luzon project will start soon and is expected to be completed within the year, according to the Bicol Regional Development Council.

The Bicol RDC, chaired by Albay Governor Joey Salceda, said it would work with the Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines and help provide data for the study.

It will also assist a Canadian consultancy firm in gathering needed additional information on the Bicol section of the project.

The PPP Center tapped CPCS Transcom, a Canadian consultancy firm, to undertake the study for the project, starting with the Bicol section and explore the viability of an expanded Luzon railway system as a convenient, affordable and environment-friendly alternative transport for people and goods.

Salceda said the PPP Center’s feasibility study would cover the entire PNR’s 700-kilometer north and south mainline networks. The Luzon Integrated Railways project is among the most ambitious proposals for PPP of the government.

Salceda initiated a national railways summit in Metro Manila in June and presented the prospects for a modernized “Bicol Express” and “Mayon Limited,” the train services that link Manila to the Calabarzon and Bicol regions.

He said the railways industry should be placed at the center of the national agenda, adding that “railways development should be a natural companion strategy to the Bicol industry cluster, for development to trickle down and sustain development growth.”

Other regions in Luzon, the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Calabarzon RDC also signified interest in the railway development initiative of Salceda, which aims to interconnect the north and south railways to the Metro Manila system.

Train service offers a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside to tourists, both domestic and foreign, as it gives unrestricted view of natural endowments such as Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins and the greenery of Bicol farmlands and mountains, he said.

PNR officials said the railways transport was a superior alternative option as recently proven in the Legazpi-Naga stretch where a recent one-way test run took one and half hours only, a full hour faster than a bus run. It costs only P82 per passenger, cheaper by about P50 than the current bus fare for the stretch.


China Railway Operator Offers To Build $1.3-B LRT 1 Extension

Manila Bulletin, 11 June 2012

MANILA, Philippines — China’s biggest railway builder and operator China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd. (CRCC) has renewed its commitment in building the $1.3-billion LRT Line 1 extension to Cavite province under PNoy’s Public-Private Partnership Program.

This was bared by Jerome Canlas, executive vice president of Ecorail Transport Services, Inc., the original proponent for the construction of LRT-1 Extension, who said that its foreign partner China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, one of the world’s leaders in railways construction and technology, has relayed to the consortium that that it wants to pursue the project under the PPP.

Canlas said Ecorail is already in the third stage of its unsolicited proposal to design, finance, build, transfer and manage has the advantage over the project proponents considering its track record in railway and train construction and its strong financial capability is readily available once the government gives the final for the project to proceed.

CRCC is one of the biggest in the world with assets of more than US$1 trillion and ranked 6th consistently for a period of nine years in the 225 largest contractors and among the top 500 enterprises in the world by Forbes magazine. CRCC is the operator of the world’s fastest train that traverse the Wuhan-Guangzhou line. CRCC, has already built 34,000 kilometers of railway tracks in 60 countries all over the world, including the 1,200-km Qing Hai-Tibet railway line. In 2008, CRCC listed its shares in the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges, raising the second largest initial public offering (IPO) in the world with US$ 5.71 billion second only to the IPO of Visa with US$19.65 billion.

“We hereby affirm our interest to cooperate with your esteemed organization to jointly pursue the above project which not only further underscores our mutual long term relationship but also progression of the framework of cooperation agreement entered into by both our organizations in Tianjin in June 2009, Hu Zhenyi, CRCC Executive Director and Vice President, said in his letter to Ecorail.

Cost-wise, the infrastructure development of Ecorail proposal is a lot cheaper at US$ 42.165 M per kilometer as against the other proposals at more than US$ 45 M per kilometer. The proposal for electro-mechanical works inclusive of the provision for rolling stocks sufficient to accommodate the peak ridership at 25 minutes headway over a period of time is also cheaper at US$409.14 million as against other proposals.

Ecorail is composed of well-experienced and experts in the fields of project financial packaging, project development inclusive of Engineering, Procurement and Construction as well as Operations and Maintenance Management at par with international standards.

Ecorail proposition will reduce the government’s balance of payment deficits and/or reduce subsidies which are advantageous to the Philippine Government, which is expected to minimize exposure to the project because it has no government guarantee.

Length-wise, the alignment of the LRT Line 1 South Extension proposed by ECORAIL is longer by more than 4 kilometers with its terminal point in Imus, Cavite as against the other proposals with terminal stations in Bacoor, Cavite. The project provides the much-needed link between the southern cities and municipalities of Cavite province and northern cities of Metro Manila. The railway system is intended to provide an efficient and reliable mode of transportation to help decongest the main arteries of Metro Manila.

LRT 1 extension will supplement the LRT 1 by extending it from Baclaran to Imus, Cavite; It will pass NAIA, Sucat, both in Paranaque Las Pinas, Zapote in Muntinlupa, and Talaba, Bacoor, Aguinaldo and finally Imus, all in Cavite.

Canlas said Ecorail has a ‘programmed solution’ for system enhancement and full integration provided by its designated team of specialists covering the North Line 1 Extension, the Existing Line 1 and the proposed South Line 1 Extension into a ‘‘seamless operation.’’