Albay Representative Joey Salceda is optimistic that the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Rail Project will be partially operational by 2022.
The project covers Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon, and would reduce the travel time to only six hours.
Salceda said during a committee hearing last Tuesday that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued a project update, and said that the project will be started next year.
In a statement, Salceda said that a loan-signing agreement between the DOTr and China Export-Import Bank would take place this month, adding that the project cost was initially placed at PHP175 billion.
Last November 17, the China Railway Design Corp. and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Corp. of the Republic of China was awarded the south railway project by the DOTr Project Management Consulting Service.
The People´s Republic of China (PRC) is tasked to pursue the PNR commuter and ¨long haul¨ rail project under the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), covering the 639 KM of rail tracks from Manila to Sorsogon. The railway system, Salceda explains, will start from Manila and pass through Batangas, Lucena, Naga, Legazpi, Sorsogon, and end at Matnog.
Under the agreement, the PRC will construct and develop civil works, electro-mechanical systems, rolling stock, and provide consulting services.
Thousands to be relocated, in close coordination with the NHA
For its part, the Philippine Government will take charge of land acquisition and resettlement of the thousands of informal settlers that will be affected by this project.
Salceda said that according to DOTr reports, a total of 85,000 families will have to be relocated once the project starts. The DOTr is closely coordinating with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to look for relocations sites for the families that will be affected.