The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of US$2.8bn to finance a 53km railway linking Malolos, a suburb north of Philippine capital Manila, to Clark economic zone and Clark International Airport in central Luzon.
The Malolos-Clark railway will cater to 342,000 daily passengers, cutting the travel time from Metro Manila to Clark International Airport to an hour, compared with three at present.
When completed, the project will help cut road congestion in Metro Manila, as well as reducing air pollution and transport costs.
The ADP says the development will also help spur economic growth in central Luzon and "encourage a population shift from the capital to growth centres in the north, such as Clark in Pampanga".
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The Malolos-Clark is due to be partially opened in 2022.
The project is part of the Philippine government’s 163km North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project, which will reach Calamba in Laguna province in the south of Manila.
The NSCR project is expected to be completed by 2025.
Takehiko Nakao, ADB president, said: "ADB’s partnership with the Philippines has always been strong, and it has become stronger in the last three years.
"The government’s Build, Build, Build (BBB) program is clearly steering the much-needed acceleration in infrastructure spending, from less than 2% of GDP a decade ago to 6.3% now, well on track to achieve the 7% target by 2022.
"One of the key flagship projects of the BBB program is the Malolos-Clark railway.
"It will be ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever, and from a development perspective, we are pleased this investment is taking place in ADB’s host country.
"The project, combined with other investments in light rail transit, metro rail transit, and subway systems, will bring back the culture of rail transport in Metro Manila."
Image: Traffic in Manila (Tupungato/Dreamstime)