THE Philippine National Railways (PNR) is looking to expand train service in Central Luzon, with authorities evaluating rail systems extending to Nueva Ecija.
PNR General Manager Junn B. Magno said that the company is to bring railway projects further north, with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) tapped to study a Northeast Commuter Line.
“PNR has alignments from Cabanatuan to Balagtas (Bulacan). We asked NEDA already to conduct a feasibility study for a Cabanatuan to Makati line. That will be the Northeast Commuter Line,” Mr. Magno told reporters late Monday.
The NEDA is also evaluating prospects to set up a train line from Cabanatuan to Bulacan as well as San Jose, Nueva Ecija to Tarlac City which will then be connected to the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR).
The state-owned railway is slated to implement the NSCR starting this year, which is a 147-kilometer (km) railway stretch split into three segments worth a total of P628.42 billion.
The NSCR project includes a 38km train line from Tutuban, Manila to Malolos, Bulacan; a 53km line from Malolos to Clark; and another 56km line from Manila to Calamba, Laguna.
Once completed, travel time from Central to Southern Luzon is expected to be trimmed to 1.5 hours from the current five hours by bus.
“And then possibly, they are doing feasibility study of the Cagayan railroad through a Caraballo Mountain tunnel — we’re studying that,” PNR’s Mr. Magno added, noting that his agency is currently focused on developing transport modes for the “Greater Capital Region.”
The NSCR railway project is currently the biggest infrastructure project rolled out by the Duterte administration under its “Build, Build, Build” program. Construction of the Malolos-Tutuban line is slated to start in February.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Japan International Cooperation Agency Director-General Shigenori Ogawa signed the first loan agreement for the long-haul commuter line worth P80.47 billion on Monday.
Partial NSCR operations is targeted by 2022, while full service is scheduled by April 2023.
Other train projects in the pipeline include the Metro Manila subway; the Light Rail Transit extension lines to Cavite and Masinag, Antipolo; the Metro Rail Transit line 7 to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; and the Mindanao railway. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez