INSPECTION. Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade (right), together with Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando (left) and other DOTr officials, inspect the erected segments and completed span at the Balagtas Station of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase I Project in Barangay Borol 1st, Balagtas, Bulacan on Monday (June 14, 2021). The project that will cross the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and the municipalities of Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos City is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2024. (Photo by Manny Balbin)

BALAGTAS, Bulacan – The construction of the 38-kilometer Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase I project is on track with overall progress rate of almost 50 percent, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Monday.

Tugade, together with Governor Daniel Fernando, visited and inspected the ongoing construction at the Balagtas Station site in Barangay Borol 1st, which is part of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project in this town.

He said the 24/7 construction of the railway started in February 2019 and is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2024.

“It is considered to be one of the first major applications of the span by span method here in the Philippines for infrastructure projects,” Tugade told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

The package, he said, is a 14-kilometer long viaduct with three stations, namely Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos.

The future PNR railway will sit on top of the elevated concrete section where piers span between 40 to 50-meter distances.

“The viaduct of the piers are to be connected by using the Span by Span and Balanced Cantilever Construction Method. Using precast concrete box girders of 60 to70 tons each which were cast here in our Calumpit Yard,” Tugade said.

Abigail Verzosa, quantity surveyor manager of Sumitomo Mitsui Corp., contractor of the project, said they already completed the launching of the 22 spans which is equivalent to almost one kilometer.

“For the three building stations, namely Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos City, we have already completed the foundation works. In the Balagtas station, we are already at the construction of the platform level. Structural steel roof framing is already in preparation for its launching in the succeeding months,” she said.

Verzosa added that at the Guiguinto station, the foundation works have been completed and that they are now working upward for the structural works of the stations. The two remaining launching gantries with a 50-meter span have also been started.

The PNR Clark North 1 will have its depot at the Valenzuela Station wherein its trains will pass through Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, until it reaches Malolos City.

The project has total budget of PHP106 billion, of which PHP93 billion came from Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) while the Philippine government allotted some PHP13 billion.

The PNR Clark Phase I will have 10 stations that will cut across the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and the municipalities of Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos City.

Once completed, the train service is expected to serve 300,000 passengers every day and will reduce travel time between Malolos City and Tutuban from one hour and 30 minutes to only 35 minutes. (PNA)