Wednesday, 10 February 2010

North Luzon Railway Phase 1 may be operational by 2012

Ramon Efren R. Lazaro
Business Mirror

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—The first stage of the North Luzon Railways Corp. (Northrail) system, a modern-day railway that will be running to and from Caloocan City to Clark Economic Zone in Pampanga, is expected to be operational by 2012.

This was the assessment of Zoilo Andin, president and chief operating officer of Northrail.

Northrail is a government entity tasked to build, manage and operate the railway project that is divided into four phases. Phase 1 is from Caloocan to Clark that is divided into two sections: Section 1 is from Caloocan to Malolos. Section 2 is from Malolos to Clark.

Phase 2 is a branch line to Subic, Zambales; Phase 3 is from Caloocan to Fort Bonifacio; and Phase 4 is the extension line to San Fernando, La Union.

Andin said during a press briefing on Friday afternoon at the Northrail’s Coupler Conference Room in St. Agatha Subdivision in this town, “We have gained momentum in our undertaking to build a modern-day railway system from Caloocan to Clark in Pampanga. Based on our 2009 performance and lessons learned, we are now certain of having our trains running on the 82-kilometer track from Caloocan to Clark in the next two years or so.”

He added the project was almost stopped after encountering several problems.

“After surmounting recurring difficulties encountered in previous years, our physical achievements for Section 1 in 2009 have even surpassed cumulative accomplishments since construction work commenced in 2007,” Andin said. He added that accomplishment rate last year alone was 17 percent.

He said accomplishment rate in the coming months is expected to rise dramatically because Northrail has already attained a higher degree of functional synergy among the contractors, engineers, technical and support personnel that translated to faster and effective application of engineering and construction approaches.

The train test run on its track in the Caloocan portion of the project is expected to be made in June before President Arroyo steps down from office. All civil works may be completed in the middle of 2011, barring any major problems in the construction stages, Andin said.

He said preliminary work of some tedious and critical undertakings, such as construction design and drawings, has either been completed or already being implemented.

It took some time before Northrail and its Chinese counterpart finally agreed on what designs and standards are to be used.

The project was funded through a loan by the Chinese government on the condition that a Chinese contractor, China Machinery and Equiptment Group (CNMeg), was tapped for its construction.

Andin said CNMeg and Northrail inked the agreement on Dec. 30, 2003, and signed the construction agreement later.

The design of Northrail is “rail-over-road” where the trains will be traveling above major road crossings that will allow for the continuous and uninterrupted flow of vehicular traffic.

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