ADB Approves $2.75 Billion Support for Malolos–Clark Railway Project

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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.