MANILA – The Department of Transportation broke ground Friday (Jan. 5) for Phase 1 of the Philippine National Railways line linking Metro Manila to Clark Field, with this first segment running from Tutuban station in Manila to historic Malolos town in Bulacan.
The groundbreaking was held Friday morning for the Advance Construction Mobilization for Phase 1 of the Clark railway at an open area in Maria Socorro, Marilao, Bulacan, and graced by transportation and local officials.
Also gracing the event was Bulacan’s first senator in 20 years, Joel Villanueva, who cited the PNR Manila-Clark project as a boon to economic activity and to commuters.
The project is seen to ease the legendary vehicular traffic in Metro Manila and speed up travel to north of the metropolis, especially key areas of Central Luzon where modern townships are being developed.
According to DOTr Assistant Secretary for Railways Timothy John Batan the pre-construction phase will be handled by an interagency group and the local government, particularly the site clearing, road levelling and the removal of structures that obstruct the rail lines.
Phase 1 of the PNR Clark project runs 38 kilometers from Tutuban to Malolos.
It has 10 stations and is expected to serve on average 340,000 people daily.
The project, envisioned to cut travel time from Tutuban to Malolos to only 35 minutes, is part of the Duterte administration’s flagship Build, Build Build program.
‘FINALLY, A TRAIN TO BULACAN’
Senator Villanueva lauded the start of the PNR Clark project linking Tutuban in Divisoria, Manila, to his home province Bulacan.
“Sa wakas, mayroon nang ‘Train to Bulacan’ at malaking ginhawa po ito sa ating mga kababayan sa Gitnang Luzon higit lalo sa minamahal nating mga Bulakenyo [Finally we have a Train to Bulacan that brings relief to our people in Central Luzon, especially our fellow Bulakenyos],” said Villanueva, first Bulakenyo in more than 20 years to become a senator.
“The construction of Clark Railway increases connectivity within Metro Manila and the Central Region. Not only will this afford convenience to our commuters but will also improve economic activity in the area,” Villanueva added.
Villanueva, an advocate of job creation, further underscored how the railway project can strengthen the economy and generate employment.
“Ang pinakamagandang magiging bunga po ng Build, Build, Build ay Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Dala po ng tren na ito ay trabaho. Dala po ng tren na ito ay negosyo. Dala po ng tren na ito ay progreso [The best fruit of Build Build Build is Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. This train brings jobs. It brings commerce. It brings progress],” Villanueva said.
He said it will also ease congestion and traffic in Metro Manila.
In November last year, the DOTr took a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to finance the north-south commuter railway project’s Tutuban-Malolos component.
The Tutuban to Malolos segment is targeted to be partially completed by 2020 and fully operational by 2021.