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The Asian Development Bank has approved funding for the South Commuter Railway Project.

MANILA, Philippines — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has granted a loan of up to $4.3 billion to help finance the building of a modern suburban railway line connecting Metro Manila and Calamba.

The South Commuter Railway Project, which is part of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) network, is the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) largest infrastructure funding in Asia and the Pacific region to date.

The South Commuter Railway, once finished, will provide commuters with quick public transportation, aid to alleviate traffic congestion, and contribute to the Philippines’ climate change goal by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The project follows the ADB’s financing of the Malolos-Clark Railway line, which is now under construction north of the city.

“The South Commuter Railway Project will provide commuters with inexpensive, safe, dependable, and rapid public transportation,” stated Ahmed Saeed, Vice-President of the Asian Development Bank for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. “This project is ADB’s largest infrastructure investment, demonstrating our commitment to assisting the Philippines in attaining its goals of poverty reduction, enhancing the lives of Filipinos, and promoting green, resilient, and high economic growth.”

The project includes the building of 18 stations for everyone, including the elderly, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as well as a connecting tunnel to allow direct trains from Calamba to stations on the projected Metro Manila Subway system.

All infrastructure will be built to withstand typhoons and earthquakes and will be disaster-resistant.

The project will cut the time it takes to commute from Manila to Calamba in half, from 2.5 hours now.

The NSCR will help the Philippines recover economically from the severe effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic of 2019 (Covid-19), since it is estimated to generate over 35,500 construction employment and over 3,200 permanent jobs throughout its operation.

It will have a significant growth multiplier effect in the economy due to supplier contracts and new opportunities created by improved regional connectivity.

According to an ADB analysis, residents along the project’s route will have better access to more than 300,000 employment within a one-hour commute.

The Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) assisted the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in project preparation. The loan will help DOTr, the implementing agency, build its ability and enhance its institutions.

The railway will be elevated to avoid flooding and to minimize the impact on villages along the route. A technical assistance award will help the communities that have been impacted.

The South Commuter Railway Project will be funded by a multi-tranche financing instrument, with the first $1.75 billion tranches available this year.

The second and third tranches are projected to be released in 2024 and 2026, respectively.

Civil works for the railway viaduct, stations, bridges, tunnels, and depot buildings will be funded by the Asian Development Bank.

The rolling stock and railway systems are being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The project is part of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development initiative and is one of the Philippines’ infrastructure flagship projects (IFP).

The Metro Manila Bridges Project in 2021, the EDSA Greenways Project in 2020, the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project in 2016, with additional funding in 2020, the Malolos Clark Railway Project in 2019, and the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project in 2017 are some of the other IFPs financed by ADB.

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