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RP, China break ground  for Manila-Ilocos railway  

Source: Malaya, Tuesday, 06 April 2004



The Philippine and Chinese governments yesterday broke ground on the Nort Rail Manila-to-Ilocos project.

China's new ambassador, Wu Hongbo, reaffirmed Beijing's commitment of a 20 year concessionary financing for the project.

"This project begins the opening phase of a well planned effort to rebuild the country's railway system in North and South Luzon and in Panay Island in the Visayas and build the first rail system in Mindanao in hundred years," Speaker Jose de Venecia said during the launching at the PNR Caloocan City terminal.

De Venecia said that in the next few weeks, the first place of the modernized South Rail to Sorsogon will be launched with the Manila-to-Calamba line, which will be financed by the South Korea government.

China is providing $400 million in  concessionary financing for the Caloocan City-Malolos line, which will eventually extend to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, according to PNR general manager Jose Ma. Sarasola II.

Sarasola said Phase II of the project is the line branching out to the Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales. Phase II covers the line from Caloocan to the Fort Bonifacio Global City while Phase IV extends the line all the way north to San Fernando in La Union.

Minister Xiao Qian of the Chinese Embassy called the project is the first 20-year concessionary loan ever extended by China to any government at 3 percent interest and includes a five-year grace period.

Sarasola said 23 Chinese engineers are already in the country for final technical deliberations on the project, a double-track system that will use narrow gauge tracks compatible with PNR lines.

When completed, the 32-km line is estimated to ferry 350,000 commuters daily, including those from the LRT and MRT lines with which North Rail will be interconnected.

The North Rail project is being jointly undertaken by the PNR, Bases Convesion Development Authority (BCDA) and its subsidiary, the North Luzon Railways Corp., Department of Transportation and Communications, and the National Machinery and Equipment Corp (CNMEG) owned by the Chinese government.

Also to be rebuilt is the South Rail extending from Manila to Matnog in Sorsogon.

Two rail lines are to be revived in Panay Island, and four entirely new lines are planned to criss-cross Mindanao.



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