Construction of the P175-billion Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Railways project — a 639-kilometer standard gauge railway line from Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon, a component of the PNR Luzon System program — will finally push through next year.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said the PNR Luzon System is among big-ticket infrastructure projects to be funded under an Official Development Assistance (ODA) agreement to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is set to visit Manila this month.
“Finally, the PNR South Railways project which we have tediously designed as a key that will unlock the economic potentials of the vast Southern Tagalog and Bicol areas, is now finally coming to realization , said Salceda, the project’s original proponent.
The PNR South Railway segment cuts Manila-Legazpi travel down to less than five hours. It runs from Manila to Matnog in Sorsogon with nine major stations -- Manila, Los Baños, Batangas City, Lucena, Gumaca, Naga City, Legazpi City, Sorsogon City, and Matnog.
Salceda said the modern railways project will be a major backbone of economic development in Southern Tagalog and Bicol with spillover benefits to other regions of the country. Its construction is set to start in the second quarter of 2019 and will be partially operational by the second quarter of 2022.
Originally proposed years ago by Salceda, the PNR South Railways project now forms part of the massive “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration. Relocation of affected families for ‘right of way,’ and procurement of project management consultant services which cost about P14.8 billion, are presently on-going.
When finished, Salceda said, the project will enhance the connectivity of major airports and seaports in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, and provide a fast and reliable alternative transport system for untapped areas along its route. The PNR Luzon System includes the following component sections: PNR North 1 (Manila - Malolos) worth P10. 3 billion; PNR North 2 (Malolos-Clark), P211.4 billion; PNR South Railway Commuter (Manila-Los Baños), P124 billion; and the PNR South Railways Long-haul (Manila-Sorsogon), P175 billion .
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said the ODA contract will be signed during President Xi’s November visit. High-level economic talks on the project between Philippine and Chinese economic and infrastructure managers were held in Beijing earlier this year.