Eight big ticket rail infrastructure projects will be completed or will start partial operations this year and until the end of the Duterte administration in 2022, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

In a statement, DOTr said these railway projects are the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line 2 East (Masinag) Extension, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line 3 rehabilitation, Common Station, LRT-1 Cavite Extension, MRT-7, Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1, key facilities of the Metro Manila Subway project and the Mindanao Rail project.

Junn Magno, PNR general manager, said the ongoing construction of the PNR Clark Phase 1 from Tutuban, Manila to Malolos, Bulacan has a 43 percent overall progress as of January 2021. Partial operation of key facilities is slated in the fourth quarter of 2021 and full operations by the second quarter of 2024.

Michael Capati, MRT-3 director for operations, said the MRT-3’s full rehabilitation will be completed this December. Rail replacement works were completed last December, months ahead of schedule.

Anna Tayag, DOTr-Railways Sector project development officer, reported that partial operations of the LRT-1 Cavite Extension Package 1 will be in the fourth quarter of this year. The project will extend the existing LRT-1 system from Baclaran, Parañaque to Bacoor, Cavite.

Hernando Cabrera, Light Rail Transit Authority spokesperson, said the LRT-2 East (Masinag) Extension, from Marikina Station to Antipolo Station, will commence partial operations this April. As of end-January, the project has a 96.29 percent overall progress rate.

Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway project, the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment, is targeted to be partially operable in March 2022.

San Miguel Corp.’s MRT-7 will be partially operational in December 2021 and fully operational in December 2022, according to Timothy Batan, DOTr undersecretary for railways.

Batan also said tunnel boring for the Metro Manila Subway project, the first-ever subway in the country, will start in the third quarter of 2021.

In his overview presentation of the railways sector under the Build, Build, Build Program of the Duterte administration, Batan said the annual direct economic cost of congestion in Metro Manila as of 2017 is at P1.277 trillion.

To address the risk of the coronavirus disease 2019 transmission through the rail system, the DOTr reiterated the existing health and safety protocols in each railway line, including testing, contact tracing, and isolation of transport personnel affected by the disease.

This is in addition to the strict implementation of the “7 Commandments” in public transportation, as recommended by health experts.

As for the railway transport plan when Metro Manila shifts to the modified general community quarantine, Batan said the sector abides by the directive of the President and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.