MANILA - The government's plan to build railways connecting different parts of the country took a step closer to reality after a key committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced it approved three rail projects.
NEDA's Investment Coordination Committee said it has given the green light for the Tagum-Davao-Digos (TDD) segment of the Mindanao Railway Project.
Two other railway projects approved by the NEDA committee are the North South Railway Projects (NSRP) South Line, and the Malolos-Clark Railway Project (MCRP).
However, the projects will still need to be elevated to the NEDA Board, chaired by President Duterte, which will convene again this month to confirm the projects.
The TDD is a 102.28 kilometer railway that will run from Tagum City, Davao del Norte, to Digos City, Davao del Sur. It will form the first phase of the proposed 830-kilometer Mindanao loop.
Its estimated project cost is P35.26 billion and will be financed locally. Once the NEDA Board confirms the project, construction will start in the first quarter of 2018 and is expected be finished by the third quarter of 2022.
The NSRP- South Line, meanwhile, will connect Manila to Laguna and the Bicol region.
It will have a 72-kilometer commuter line that will run from Tutuban to Los Baños, a 581-kilometer long haul line from Los Baños to Sorsogon, and a third track connecting the Port of Manila to FTI in Taguig.
It is estimated to cost P285 billion and will be financed through Official Development Assistance (ODA).
The MCRP, meanwhile will run from Malolos, Bulacan, to Clark International Airport (Phase I), and from Clark International Airport to Clark Green City (Phase II).
The project has an estimated cost of P211.43 billion. Construction of the MCRP will be financed through ODA, while its operations and maintenance will be through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
The railways are key components of the government's ambitious "Build, build, build!" program that aims to spend P8 trillion until the end of President Duterte's term to upgrade the country's infrastructure.
Besides the railway projects, the ICC approved a P9.89 billion flood control project in Cavite.