The Government of Philippines has started construction of the North-South Commuter Railway Project in Manila.

Construction works started with the ground-breaking ceremony of the Tutuban to Malolos section of the project called the PNR Clark Phase I.

A 37.6km-long section, PNR Clark Phase I will be implemented by the government’s Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

It will feature ten stations and a depot in Valenzuela City.

Once completed, the section will be served by 13 eight-car train sets and will reduce travel time between Manila and Malolos from one hour and 45 minutes to just 35 minutes.

“The section will reduce travel time between Manila and Malolos from one hour and 45 minutes to just 35 minutes.”

PNR Clark Phase I is expected to serve more than 300,000 passengers daily.

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Additionally, the section will be connected with the PNR Clark Phase II (Malolos-Clark) and PNR Calamba to form an integrated commuter railway system.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said: “This is the President’s gift not only to the people of Bulacan and Pampanga, but more importantly, to the people of this country, in high hopes of providing them with an efficient and comfortable mode of transport.”

The construction works for the PNR Clark Phase I begin within one month of signing of the loan agreement between the Philippines and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Last month, JICA agreed to provide a $1.53bn loan towards the construction of the North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project.

The ground breaking for the Metro Manila Subway, also funded through a JICA loan, is scheduled on 26 February.