Friday, October 26, 2012

Do not abandon NorthRail, bizmen asked PNoy

MALOLOS CITY—Business leaders here called on President Aquino not to abandon the anomalous NorthRail project noting that further development of the province and of Central Luzon depends on it.

As this developed, other businessmen said Bulacan might have two railways in the future saying that NorthRail project might be built on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

Renato Simbulan, the president emeritus of the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) told the STAR that the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) reminded the President on the importance of the said project.

He said that it is part of a resolution submitted by the PCCI to the President during the recent Philippine Business Conference (PBC).

“NorthRail is very important to us here,” Simbulan said noting that it should not be totally abandoned.

As former head of the BCCI, he said that he collaborated with former Subic Bay Administrator Felicito Payumo and Rufo Colayco of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the said project in the early 90s.

“We saw NorthRail as the major key in development of Central Luzon provinces,” Simbulan noting that concept for the project came after the American left Clark Field in Pamapnga to avoid devastation brought by the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo.

By mind-90s, the concept of the project was completed and an agreement was signed with China in 2004 for the implementation of railway project that will link Metro Manila and Clark Field.

Initial design was for a rapid railways, but later it was modified into a commuter train that will service Caloocan city and towns of Bulacan up to Pampanga.

However, the emergence of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport led to consideration of design.

Business leaders and former Department of Transportation and Communications officials said there is a need for a rapid transport that will link Clark Field and Manila in less than one hour.

The natural answer is the NorthRail project, but it was abandoned in 2008 by Chinese contractors until contract was rescinded months ago.

This developed, Ambrosio Cruz of Archer Realty and former mayor of Guiguinto town said that there is a possibility that Bulacan might just have two railways system.

Citing conversation with DOTC officials, Cruz said that the rapid train system can be constructed in record time in between the north and southbound lanes of the NLEX.

With regards to the old Philippine National Railways track which was cleared to give way to the NorthRail Project, Cruz said the government is considering to establish a commuter train there.

“We just have to wait, but we might just have more than what we are asking for,” he said.

Cruz added that when completed, the railway project terminal in Bulacan will become an instant growth area.

The same was echoed by Mara Bautista, the former executive director of the BCCI who said that in Japan and other countries, areas where a train terminal was built experienced quick progress as businessmen came to invest.