Construction of LRT extension to Cavite possible by midyear

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Passengers wait to board an LRT Line 1 train at Gil Puyat Station in this photo taken on September 2, 2014.

By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo

LIGHT RAIL Manila Corp. (LRMC) may start by midyear the construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 extension to Cavite.

LRMC President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Juan Alfonso said they have signed the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract with French company Bouygues Travaux Publics.

“We’ve actually already signed with an EPC contractor which means we are committed. We are trying to do this as soon as possible. Our guess right now is for it to be,…we want the actual construction to start, if we can, by the middle of this year. If we can do it quicker, if issues are solved faster, we’ll do it quicker,” LRMC’s Mr. Alfonso told reporters.

Mr. Alfonso said they are already in the detailed design phase of the project and are “ironing out” right-of-way issues.

“(W)e are now entering the detailed design phase with our EPC. We’ve actually signed up with an EPC contractor. We still have a few things we are trying to iron out with our right of way which we feel will be solved quite soon, this 2018. And then from there, we’ll start with the Cavite extension. But we’ve already signed with the EPC contractor… It’s really clearing the path for the actual construction because sometimes, they say the right of way is completed but actual structures have to be completed and moved, whether it’s residents or utility lines or, sometimes, alignments.”LRMC and the Department of Transportation (DoTr) broke ground on the P64.9-billion project in May last year.

The current LRT Line 1 will be extended starting from Baclaran Station to the future Niyog Station in Bacoor, Cavite, which is approximately 11.7 kilometers (kms). The whole stretch of the integrated LRT 1 will have a total length of approximately 32.4 kms and will be operated and maintained by the private proponent.

LRMC, the consortium of Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd., bagged the public-private partnership (PPP) project in September 2015..

LRMC also anticipates increased ridership with the impending implementation of the 60-kph running speed of the train system from the current 40 kph, possibly in the second quarter.

“The 60 kph will be adding about 15%, 10, 15% more trips per day, using the same trains, so people will be spending less time at the stations. And we feel if the system is more efficient, people will use it more,” Mr. Alfonso said.

LRT-1 ridership increased by 16% from 2015 to 2017, a study commissioned by LRMC said.

There was also a 37.5% increase in passengers from socioeconomic classes A, B, and C1, LRMC said in a statement.

The study was conducted by PHAR Philippines, Inc (PHAR) and TNS (part of Kantar Media), surveying 5,500 riders between 2015 and 2017. Regarding a proposed fare increase, chief operating officer Rodolfo Chansuyco said they are still in negotiations with the government. Metro Pacific Investment Corp. is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp., Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group.