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Major rail projects to be undertaken this year

Major rail projects to be undertaken this year

MANILA, Philippines — Major developments in the railway sector are set to take place this year as the government wants to forge ahead even with just more than a year left in the current administration.

Expanding and making the country’s rail network  more efficient are one of the solutions seen to help ease road traffic congestion being experienced in the metropolis.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade   over the weekend reported a slew of rail projects, which passengers would finally get the chance to experience within the year.

Tugade said the country’s first underground rail system would be partially operable by the end of the year with three initial stations.

Making this possible is the arrival in the country on Feb. 5 of the tunnel boring machines to be used for the P357-billion Metro Manila subway project.

A tunnel boring machine is a critical component in the development of the underground rail system as it will be used to dig underground and lay the tunnels.

The Metro Manila subway project will stretch across 36 kilometers and will have a total of 15 stations, crossing seven local governments, and passing three of Metro Manila’s business districts.

The project aims to reduce travel time from the Valenzuela depot to NAIA Terminal 3 to just 45 minutes from one hour and 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Tugade said the first batch of the fourth generation trains to be used in the LRT-1 system is set to arrive tomorrow.

Partial operability of the project that will extend the LRT-1 to Cavite is also expected by the end of the year.

Light Rail Manila Corp., the private operator of LRT-1, is working with Bouygues Travaux Publics as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, to speed up the completion of the project, which will cut travel time between Baclaran and Bacoor from one hour and 10 minutes to just 25 minutes.

For the MRT-3, Tugade said full rehabilitation of the rail system would be completed by July. The completion is seen restoring the MRT-3 to its original high-grade design.

Two additional stations under the LRT-2 East Extension project, meanwhile, will be operational by April 26, according to the transport chief.

The MRT-7, a P63-billion project that will cut travel time from Manila to Bulacan to about 34 minutes once completed, is also scheduled for partial operations by December, and full operations by next year.

Tugade said Area A of the Unified Grand Central Station, also known as the Common Station, would have its partial operability by July and full operability by December.

Located at the north end of EDSA, the Common Station marks the intersection of four railway lines – LRT-1, MRT-3, MRT-7, and the Metro Manila Subway – which aims to provide a seamless transfer of passengers from one rail line to another.

Tugade said having an efficient rail system would help address traffic congestion in roads.

“It’s a mass transport. Once there is an efficient rail system, you will reduce the number of motor vehicles in the roads. Once the volume is reduced, won’t traffic improve?” he said.

Tugade, however, said the issue of traffic needs a holistic approach that could be addressed through a combination of infrastructure, facilities, process, ways of doing things, and discipline.