BCDA to Bid Out Clark Rail before the Year Ends

Government-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is drafting the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Clark Rail Transit System as it is scheduled to be offered for bidding before the end of the year.

According to BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Arnel Paciano D. Casanova, the project is intended to be a joint venture (JV). He further added that the agency “will only take a minority share for the JV as we want this to be private-sector driven.”

Belonging to the public-private partnership (PPP) program, the Clark Rail project is said to be electric-powered, and would cover 82 kilometers (km) of double back track between Malolos in Bulacan and Tarlac City in Tarlac, and will have approximately 13 stations. It is basically an extension of the North-South Commuter Rail (NSCR) project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) that would cover Malolos until Calamba in Laguna.

“Offhand, BCDA will provide the land needed including substantial areas for commercial development at every station. The private JV partner will plan, design, finance, build, operate and maintain the Clark Rail,” Casanova said.

Last February, the NEDA Board, chaired by President Benigno Aquino III, approved two projects under the North-South Railway masterplan, one of which is the Phase 1 of the NSCR Project, which involves the construction of a 36.7-kilometer narrow-gauge elevated commuter railway from Malolos to Tutuban.

The other DOTC project is the North-South Railway Project (NSRP) – South Line which consists of commuter railway operations between Tutuban and Calamba, Laguna. It also includes a long haul railway operation between Tutuban and Legaspi, Albay and on the branch line between Calamba and Batangas and an extension between Legaspi and Matnog in Sorsogon.

While the exact route is still being evaluated, Casanova said that the JV partner will conduct the final alignment study. “We are considering to put the Clark Rail on a new alignment that would allow us to provide the area needed for the commercial development at every station. The Clark Rail will serve as the backbone for the movement of goods, services and people to and from Manila, Clark Green City, Clark International Airport, Clark Special Economic Zone, and Tarlac City,” he explained.

Casanova added that BCDA will also provide some 100 hectares of Clark Green City land for use as transport hub that will include the Clark Rail depot.

Asked if the deal will need to go before the NEDA Board, he replied: “No need. It’s part of the master plan of Clark. It’s a JV and we’re not getting (official development assistance) so no need. The master plan of the development of Clark Green City was approved by the NEDA Board in May last year.”

The three projects – NSCR Project, the NSRP-South Line and the Clark Rail Project – are envisioned to improve efficiency of land transportation capacity of Metro Manila and provide a more environmentally sustainable mode of transportation.

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