MANILA -- The construction arm of DMCI Holdings Inc. aims to spend PHP2 billion to support its railway construction activities in the next two years, as it expects to break ground on the first phase of the North South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project which will connect Tutuban in Manila and Malolos, Bulacan.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) recently awarded the contract for about PHP54-billion (114 billion yen) NSCR Phase 1 project to the joint venture of D.M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) and Taisei Corporation of Japan.

“So far, it’s the biggest single contract awarded. We want to participate (in more Build, Build, Build projects) but not simultaneous. It will take time, dami nyan (there are so many projects). Resources, especially training engineers, are challenging,” said DMCI Holdings chairman and president Isidro Consunji in an interview after the company’s stockholders’ meeting Tuesday.

Consunji said the NSCR project will interconnect Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) System Lines 3 and 7.

“Building mass transport systems and high-impact infrastructure is part of our DNA. We are very excited and grateful to be part of this game-changing project for our country,” said DMCI president and Chief Executive Officer Jorge Consunji.

He said the first phase of NSCR project has three components which include the construction of around 22 kilometers of elevated viaduct structures, six stations and a depot, which will be located in Valenzuela City.

Consunji noted the civil works are expected to be completed in 30 months.

“After the civil works comes in the electro mechanical systems (EMS), that’s another package, up for bid before the year is over. There is another group coming to put the rails, power, the signaling so you look at 42 months,” he told reporters.

In a statement to the local bourse, DMCI said NSCR Phase 1 will use the existing alignment of the Philippine National Railway (PNR), which runs from Malolos to Tutuban. The trains will have the maximum operating speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

Once completed, the railway will shorten travel time between Malolos and Tutuban from one hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes. This rail line is expected to serve 300,000 passengers daily.

DMCI will employ up to 5,000 direct and indirect workers within the next 30 months to meet the manpower requirements of the project.

NSCR Phase 1 is the fifth railway project of DMCI.

The company was also involved in the construction of LRT Line 1 North Extension, LRT Line 2 East Extension, two PNR projects, and the Dubai Monorail in the United Arab Emirates.

Taisei Corporation is the contractor behind the Iloilo International Airport, which was named the 12th best airport in Asia in 2017 by travel website “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports”. (PNA)