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PHILIPPINES: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved financing of up to $2.75 billion for the construction of 53.1km of a passenger railway connecting Malolos, a suburb north of Manila, to Clark economic zone and Clark International Airport in Central Luzon.

The Malolos–Clark railway is part of the Philippine government’s North–South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project, a 163-km suburban railway network stretching from New Clark City in Tarlac province in the north to Calamba in Laguna province in the south of Manila. The NSCR project is expected to be completed by 2025.

342,000 passengers expected to travel daily along the Manila–Clark corridor and up to 696,000 passengers per day to Calamba by 2025. It is estimated to cut the travel time from Metro Manila to Clark International Airport to less than one hour by rail, compared with 2 to 3 hours by car or bus today. The project is expected to be partially operational from 2022.

“It will be ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever, and from a development perspective, we are pleased this investment is taking place in ADB’s host country. The project, combined with other investments in light rail transit, metro rail transit, and subway systems, will bring back the culture of rail transport in Metro Manila,” said ADB President Mr. Takehiko Nakao.

ADB will be financing civil works of the Malolos–Clark Railway Project, including the stations, bridges, and viaducts for the elevated railway alignment, and a tunnel leading to the underground station at Clark International Airport. It will also assist the government in using global standards for procurement and environmental and resettlement safeguards.

The project is co-financed with up to $2 billion by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will finance the rolling stock and the railway systems.

“Our co-financing partnership with JICA allows both our institutions to combine our expertise and knowledge in building a world-class railway in the Philippines,” said ADB Principal Transport Specialist for Southeast Asia Mr. Markus Roesner.

The project includes the construction of two rail segments—a 51.2-km section connecting Malolos City in Bulacan province to the thriving Clark regional growth center and a 1.9-km extension connecting the NSCR to the Blumentritt Station in Manila, where an elevated interchange station for Light Rail Transit Line 1 will be built.

The rail stations will include multimodal facilities, allowing commuters to easily transfer from public buses and jeepneys to the trains. The underground station at the Clark International Airport will provide a short connection to upcoming and future airport terminals.

The project will be built on an elevated alignment, helping reduce the impact on communities, avoid disruption of activities, and mitigate flood risks along the route. It will use innovative construction methods such as pre-fabricated viaduct segments, which limits the need for land acquisition and accelerates construction. High-quality construction methods will be used to achieve the maximum rail speed of up to 160 km per hour.

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ALGERIA: National railway SNTF has officially started the operations of the commercial train service from Agha to Algiers Houari Boumediene Airport on 29 April 2019.

The trains will run every hour between 05:00 to 21:00. The single fare is 80DA (0.6 EUR).

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MALAYSIA: Travellers who are planning for their next adventure are now able to purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets on Tripcarte.Asia, a homegrown online travel platform that allows travellers to book tours, travel activities such as boat riding and cruise, theme park and attraction tickets and watersport activities across Malaysia and Singapore.

Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd’s (ERL) Chief Executive Officer, Noormah Mohd Noor said, “We are delighted to partner with Tripcarte.Asia to bring the very best of Malaysia to travellers from abroad. With Tripcarte.Asia, travellers abroad can now plan their holiday and book their travel arrangements, including KLIA Ekspres tickets, on a single platform.”

A Malaysia based online activity platform, Tripcarte.Asia was founded and launched in 2015. With more than 300+ holiday activities, travellers are able to book attraction tickets online, allowing them to skip the queue and access their favourite attractions on the go. As a homegrown brand, Tripcarte.Asia continuously looks for partners to reach a common goal of turning Malaysia into a more popular holiday destination. Tripcarte.Asia currently offers attractions and tours in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Melaka, Penang, Johor, Perak, Pahang, Port Dickson, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.

Tripcarte's Chief Executive Officer, Parthiven Shan said, "We believe with this partnership, leisure and business travellers travelling to Malaysia will find it extremely convenient to plan and make their bookings prior to their trip. KLIA Ekspres will be an ideal way to showcase the excellent connectivity Malaysia has to offer to travellers."

Customers planning their next adventure will be able to purchase KLIA Ekspres tickets on Tripcarte.Asia starting 23rd April 2019. For more details, visit www.tripcarte.asia.

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USA: The Regional Transportation District (RTD) and commuter rail concessionaire Denver Transit Partners (DTP) marked a milestone the first week of May, with ridership reaching 20 million passengers on the University of Colorado A Line. RTD’s first commuter rail line has covered more than 8 million miles between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport since it began carrying the public in April 2016.

The celebration comes on the same day as RTD, Uber and Masabi launch Uber Transit ticketing, enabling Denver riders to be the first in the world to seamlessly buy tickets and ride transit – all from the Uber app. Following a staggered rollout over the next few weeks, all Uber riders in the Denver metro region will be able to buy RTD tickets through the Uber app and then use their phone to ride rail and bus services.

Purchasing transit tickets via Uber will cost the same as through existing options. Transit ticketing has been enabled using Masabi’s Justride SDK, a mobile ticketing software development kit (SDK) for public transportation, creating a seamless passenger experience combining transit and new mobility.

“This exciting next phase of RTD’s collaboration with Uber is yet another way our transit agency is leading the dialogue about mobility strategy, not just for the Denver metro region but for cities across the globe,” said RTD CEO and General Manager Dave Genova. “This project broadens our reach and stays at pace with the public’s needs, allowing people to plan and pay for trips from start to finish.”

“For the first time ever, taking an Uber trip can mean taking public transit,” said David Reich, Uber’s Head of Transit. “We are excited to expand our collaboration with RTD and Masabi to make Denver the first city in the world where riders can purchase transit tickets and ride public transit seamlessly through the Uber app. With this step, we are moving closer to making Uber's platform a one-stop shop for transportation access, from shared rides to buses and bikes.”

“We know convenience is the number one reason people choose a transit option, and we truly believe that a multimodal public and shared private approach will be a key part of encouraging more people to take fewer private car journeys, reducing congestion for all,” said Brian Zanghi, Chief Executive Officer at Masabi. “By making public transit tickets available through Masabi’s Justride SDK in the Uber app, we are making this a reality for the first time, helping more people seamlessly and conveniently discover and access public transit services. The future of mobility in our cities relies on innovative agencies like RTD taking the right approach and ensuring that public transit is at the core of the emerging mobility ecosystem, and we’re confident more cities will follow their lead.”

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USA: Virgin Trains USA, formerly Brightline, announced the closing of $1.75 billion in private activity bonds (PAB) to help fund the company's expansion to Orlando. Morgan Stanley was the underwriter for the transaction that was purchased by 67 different investors.

With the closing of the sale, Virgin Trains USA has the necessary funds to begin construction for service to Orlando, including 170 miles of new track to a state-of-the-art intermodal facility located in the new South Terminal at the Orlando International Airport. Construction will begin imminently and is expected to be complete in 2022.

The rail construction between West Palm Beach and Orlando is expected to have a significant economic impact in the State of Florida, including the creation of more than 10,000 jobs and is anticipated to generate more than $650 million in federal, state and local tax revenue. The project is 100 percent privately financed and represents a total investment of $4 billion.