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DOTr looking at ways to connect Santa Maria, Norzagaray to a rail network

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will look into the possibility of connecting the towns of Santa Maria and Norzagaray in Bulacan to a railway network.

During the House Committee on Transportation’s hearing on Thursday,  Bulacan 6th district Representative Salvador Pleyto asked the DOTr if his legislative district — consisting of municipalities of Norzagaray, Angat, and Santa Maria — can be connected to a railway system to help ease commuting for residents of these areas.

In response, Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez said there are three ways that the Bulacan towns can be connected to a rail network.

“One, we can ask the developer of MRT7 to extend its project from San Jose del Monte to Balagtas passing through your areas, Norzagaray and Sta Maria, probably,” Chavez said.

The Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT7) is an unsolicited proposal of the San Miguel Group under a public-private partnership project pegged at P77 billion. It involves the financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the 23-kilometer elevated railway that will have 14 stations connecting San Jose del Monte in Bulacan to the MRT3 North Avenue station in Quezon City.

“Second, we can ask for another study. This time from the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR)… maybe from NSCR to Balagtas connecting through your areas, which is also recognized as a very, very heavily dense, densely populated area, Norzagaray especially and Sta. Maria going to San Jose del Monte,” the DOTr official said.

The NSCR system project — a flagship project of the previous administration under the “Build, Build, Build" initiative — will bring together the North-South Commuter Railway Phase 1, or the Malolos-Tutuban segment, and the Malolos-Clark Railway Project (MCRP) to create a 147-kilometer elevated, double-track, and seamless connection from Clark International Airport to Calamba in Laguna with 36 stations.

It is co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Third option, we can ask for PPP (public-private partnership) in the future,” Chavez said.

However, he said that the more realistic option to connect the Bulacan towns to a railway system is to extend the MRT-7 from San Jose del Monte all the way to Norzagaray and Santa Maria.

“We submit to the expertise of the department of which… for these options that Undersecretary Cesar Chavez is discussing,” Pleyto said.—AOL, GMA News