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Construction of the PNR Bicol will commence in the first quarter of 2022.

In the first quarter of this year, work on the first package of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Bicol project would commence.

PNR General Manager Junn Magno stated the package would include the PNR Bicol’s first 380 kilometers from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay, during a press conference in Malacaang on Friday.

Magno remarked in Filipino, “Construction work will commence in the first quarter of 2022.”

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said during the briefing that his agency had asked the Department of Finance to cover the project’s PHP142 billion contract using a Chinese official development assistance (ODA) loan.

Unlike other ODA-funded projects, the PNR Bicol Package 1 had its construction contract signed before finance from China was obtained, according to Batan.

The North-South Commuter Railway System, which has the largest contract at PHP142 billion, is the DOTr’s largest rail project, followed by the Metro Manila Subway Project, he noted.

The PNR Bicol Package 1 is expected to be finished by 2024, with operations beginning in the third quarter of 2025.

The remaining PNR Bicol contract packages are expected to be completed between 2024 and 2026, with the entire PNR Bicol line due to open in 2027.

The PNR Bicol is a 560-kilometer rail system with 35 stations that will extend from Manila to Albay via Laguna, Quezon, and Camarines Sur, with a Sorsogon expansion and a Batangas branch line.

The rail system’s passenger trains will travel at 120 kph to 160 kph, while freight trains will travel at 80 kph to 100 kph, cutting travel time between Manila and Legazpi City, Albay from 14 to 18 hours to just six hours with regular commuter trains and four hours and 30 minutes with express trains.

The DOTr awarded China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co. Ltd., and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. Ltd. the contract for the PNR Bicol Package 1 on January 18.

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