Japan to lend ¥377B for North-South rail


Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

JAPAN will lend the Philippines ¥377 billion to build the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR), a 147-kilometer line between Clark in Central Luzon and Calamba, Laguna.

“It’s a very positive indication or expression of continuing support,” Timothy John R. Batan, Transportation undersecretary for planning and project development, told BusinessWorld on Tuesday.

In a statement, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Japan–Philippines High-Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation met in Manila on Nov. 4, during which the Japanese side “expressed its intention to provide loans to the scale of ¥377 billion for the development of the North-South Commuter Railway project.”

“In response, the Philippine side expressed deep gratitude for Japan’s ‘fast and sure’ implementation of assistance, most notably in the railway sector,” it added.

The Japanese government expressed its intention to render support, through the joint committee, for the Philippines’ bid to become an upper-middle-income country, and for its infrastructure program, via official development assistance and public-private partnership projects.

The NSCR project is expected to generate more than 35,500 jobs during construction while providing another 3,200 permanent jobs when operational.

The railway, which will connect Clark International Airport to Calamba, is expected to be completed by March 2029, according to the Department of Transportation. The project is co-financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The government recently signed the first four civil works contracts worth $1.87 billion for the 54.6-kilometer South Commuter Railway (Manila-Calamba), which is part of the NSCR project.

The ADB described the project as the “largest infrastructure project in the history of ADB financing” in the Asia-Pacific.

“The NSCR is implemented under a multi-tranche financing facility,” Mr. Batan said.

“We will sign the next tranche during the visit of (President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.) to Japan. That would be the next tranche, but not the last,” he added.