THE Transportation department said the first phase of the Cavite extension project of Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), operator of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), is now more than half complete.

“The LRT-1 Cavite Extension Project is now more than halfway to completion of the partial operability section until Sucat Station, as we report an overall progress rate of 51.61% as of Dec. 31,” the department said in a statement Monday.

It said recent activities include bored piling, pier/portal column works, and foundation works.

“The accelerated pace of construction also includes the expansion of the existing depot in Baclaran, and the building of a new satellite depot at Zapote,” the department added.

It said that the LRT-1 Cavite Extension is expected to start partial operations by “the end of 2021.”

Jacqueline S. Gorospe, LRMC’s spokesperson, said by phone message that the company and the Transportation department will have “to agree and align on the timelines.”

“They are well aware of the possible adjustments given the pandemic works,” she added.

Ms. Gorospe did not immediately answer when asked if the target date for partial operations could be moved to 2022.

The P64.9-billion LRT-1 Cavite extension project, a public-private partnership (PPP) venture that the National Economic and Development Authority board approved in November 2013, aims to add an 11.7-kilometer Baclaran-Bacoor, Cavite segment to the current 18.1-kilometer train line. The new stretch will have eight stations.

The first phase of the extension consists of a seven-kilometer stretch with five stations between the Redemptorist Church area in Baclaran and Dr. Santos Ave. in Parañaque.

The remaining three stations are scheduled for completion in 2022.

Once LRT-1’s Cavite extension opens to the public, the DoTr expects daily ridership along the entire line to increase to 800,000 passengers from 500,000, and Baclaran-Bacoor travel time to be cut to 25 minutes from up to two hours.

LRMC is the joint venture of Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. It holds the P65 billion, 32-year PPP contract to operate LRT-1 and build its extension to Cavite.

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