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DOTr, Chinese joint venture sign P142-billion contract for PNR Bicol project

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and a joint venture of three Chinese companies have signed a multibillion-peso contract for the construction of the first package of the Philippine National Railways South Long Haul project (PNR Bicol).

In a statement on Tuesday, the DOTr said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade signed, on January 17, the “single largest rail contract” with the joint venture of China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co. Ltd., and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. Ltd. (CREC JV) for the PNR Bicol project's first 380 kilometers from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay.

The P142-billion Design-Build contract is for the design, construction, and electromechanical works for the project.

The first 380 kilometers of PNR Bicol from Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay will span 39 cities and municipalities, four provinces, and two regions, according to the DOTr.

The contract will involve the construction of 23 stations, 230 bridges, 10 passenger tunnels, and a 70 hectare depot in San Pablo, Laguna, it added.

In a Facebook post, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the contract between the DOTr and CREC JV is “so far the highest-funded G-to-G (government-to-government) project between our two countries.”

The DOTr said CREC JV is listed in both the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges and ranked 35th on the Fortune Global 500 list and fifth among China's top 500 enterprises in 2021.

The PNR Bicol Project is one of the flagship projects of the Duterte Administration under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

The DOTr said the PNR Bicol will consist of a 565 kilometer railway, connecting Metro Manila to the southern Luzon provinces of Sorsogon and Batangas.

Once fully operational, it will cut travel time between Metro Manila and Bicol from the current 12 hours by road to as short as four hours, according to the DOTr.

It said passenger trains will run at a speed of up to 160 kilometers per hour, while freight trains will run at a speed of up to 100 kilometers per hour.

During construction, the project is expected to generate more than 5,000 direct jobs per year, it added.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved the financing of the PNR Bicol project through ODA from China. — BM, GMA News