The state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said it is in talks with Hong Kong-based rail expert MTR Corporation Ltd. and a Japanese firm over potential partnerships in a planned 55-kilometer railway system from Clark, Pampanga to Malolos, Bulacan.
The planned railway, which will have two to three stations, will link the BCDA-owned Clark Green City in Pampanga to Malolos—the tail-end of the ambitious $6-billion Integrated Luzon Railway Project (ILRP).
In an ambush interview, BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said the government agency is also “exploring” other partnerships for the railway project besides MTR Corp and the Japan-based company, which he did not name.
“The joint venture partner [for the Clark-Malolos railway]will come from the private sector. We’re now looking at potential partner. ‘Could be a mix of local and foreign. We’re also open to a dialogue with foreign developers. We’re opening the opportunities for everyone. If they are interested, they can submit a proposal to us. We want to sign contracts within the year,” Casanova said.
The BCDA railway project that will be connected the ILRP aims to transport workers living in Pampanga and working in Manila, which is expected to lessen economic losses and ease transportation congestion in the metropolitan area.
“It will provide an efficient transport system in the long term. If the NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] approves the North to Manila and South railway [ILRP] then we can just connect the railway system from Malolos to Clark and even beyond,” Casanova said.
The large-scale ILRP, on the other hand, would run from Cagayan Valley to Sorsogon in the Bicol region, covering the north network of PNR —from Manila to La Union, as well as the branch line from Tarlac to San Jose, Nueva Ecija, and a possible extension to Cagayan.
The south network will run from Manila to Legaspi City, including the branch line from Calamba to Batangas City.
The ILRP is now being studied by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to be placed under the the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) program.
Casanova said the joint venture for the railway system, sitting at a portion of the 9,500-hectare Clark and traversing an existing Philippine National Railways (PNR) line, will be mainly operated by the private sector partner while the BCDA will only provide the “franchise and property” where the project will be located.
“Right now, we’re also talking to the DOTC [Department of Transport and Communications] and PNR on how to connect it to Malolos and provide the most efficient technology, safest and most affordable railway system there,” he said.
Casanova said the submission of bids for the maiden auction of the initial 254-hectare parcel of the 9,500-hectare Clark Green City will take place likely in April this year, while the tender and publication of the terms of reference will be held on Feb 26.
The BCDA chief named the companies that have expressed interest in bidding for the 254-hectare Phase 1 stage of the Clark development as Robinsons Land Corp., Ayala Land Inc., Megaworld Corp., Filinvest Land Inc. and Century Properties Group Inc.
“We’re doing it on a phase-to-phase basis, by partial lots. We’re going to bid out the first, about 254 hectares, so that’s equivalent to the size of the Bonifacio Global City (BGC). That will be the first parcel for the first quarter,” Casanova said.
Asked how much the first development would cost, he said front payment is “pegged at a minimum of P500 million,” with BCDA cornering 45 percent of the development.
The Clark Green City is a masterplanned area within the Clark Special Economic Zone, which is seen to be the country’s first green-friendly and disaster-resilient business district, similar to the BCDA-owned development BGC in Taguig City.