THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) is set to award the contract to provide train sets for the Tutuban-Malolos segment of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project by end-May or early June.

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will finance the project through a P777.55-billion loan together with the Asian Development Bank, is currently conducting financial evaluation of the bid submitted by the tandem composed of Sumitomo Corp. and Japan Transport Engineering Co. (J-TREC).

Mag-aaward na tayo nyan if not this month, by next month. Nag-bid submission kasi tayo nyan noong Abril, ’yung financial evaluation report ay nasa JICA na for concurrence. Pagkalabas ng concurrence ng JICA ay mag-iissue na tayo ng award, pipirma ng kontrata at mag-issue ng notice to proceed (We are set to award the contract if not this month, by next month. The bid submission was in April and the financial evaluation report is now with JICA. After JICA’s concurrence, we will issue the notice of award, sign the contract and issue the notice to proceed),” he said during a briefing on Monday.

The contract set to be awarded to Sumitomo-J-TREC is for the procurement of 13 train sets with 8 cars each.

On Monday, the DoTr awarded the construction contract to DMCI Holdings, Inc. and Japanese firm Taisei Corp. for the civil works for six train stations of the Tutuban-Malolos railway, also called the Philippine National Railway (PNR) Clark Phase 1.

Actual construction also started after the contract signing, and is targeted to finish by end-2021.

The NSCR project is composed of three main railway segments that will link Clark, Pampanga to Calamba, Laguna: a 56-kilometer line from Calamba to Tutuban, a 38-kilometer line from Tutuban to Malolos, and a 53-kilometer line from Malolos to Clark.

The 147-kilometer project is expected to be fully operational by 2023.

Aside from the rolling stock package for the Tutuban-Malolos segment, the NSCR project also involves two more rolling stock packages that will be bid out eventually. These are for the 38 train sets for the Malolos-Clark and Tutuban-Calamba segment of the railway project, and the seven train sets for the airport commuter service.

“’Yung pangalawa nating rolling stock package, ’yung 38 na train sets, ’yan ay for publication nitong third quarter of 2019 [The call for bids for the second rolling stock package involving the 38 train sets is for publication by the third quarter of 2019],” Mr. Batan said.

The last package is for the airport express trains, which are high-speed trains that could run up to 160 kilometers per hour, making the travel time from the Clark International Airport to the would-be station in Buendia run in 55 minutes. — Denise A. Valdez