ADB approves £2.17bn funding for Malolos-Clark railway project in Philippines


The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved financing of up to $2.75bn (£2.17bn) for the construction of 53.1km of a railway line connecting Malolos, a suburb north of Manila, to Clark economic zone and Clark International Airport in Central Luzon.

The Malolos-Clark railway is part of the Philippine government’s North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) project.

The NSCR project is a 163km suburban railway network between New Clark City in Tarlac province in the north and Calamba in Laguna province in the south of Manila and is expected to be completed by 2025.

The Malolos-Clark Railway project is expected to provide safe, reliable and affordable public transport for 342,000 passengers expected to travel daily along the Manila-Clark corridor and up to 696,000 passengers per day to Calamba by 2025.

The project is expected to reduce the travel time from Metro Manila to Clark International Airport to less than one hour by rail, compared to two to three hours by car or bus.

Expected to be partially operational from 2022, the Malolos-Clark Railway project will ease chronic road congestion in Metro Manila, reduce air pollution, reduce transportation and logistics costs and spur economic growth in central Luzon.

It is also expected to encourage a population shift from the capital to growth centres in the north, such as Clark in Pampanga.

ADB will finance civil works of the Malolos-Clark Railway project, including stations, bridges and viaducts for the elevated railway alignment, as well as a tunnel leading to the underground station at Clark International Airport.

It will also assist the government in adopting global standards for procurement and environmental and resettlement safeguards.

The project is co-financed with up to $2bn (£1.57bn) by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will finance the rolling stock and the railway systems.

As part of the project, two rail segments will be constructed – a 51.2km section connecting Malolos City in Bulacan province to the Clark regional growth centre and a 1.9km extension connecting the NSCR to the Blumentritt Station in Manila.

An elevated interchange station for Light Rail Transit Line 1 will also be constructed at Blumentritt Station.

Commuters will be able to use multimodal facilities at the stations to easily transfer from public buses and jeepneys to the trains.

Furthermore, the underground station at the Clark International Airport will provide a connection to airport terminals currently under construction and those that will be built in the future.

An elevated alignment of the project will help reduce the impact on communities, avoid disruption of activities, and mitigate flood risks along the route.

The project will involve the use of innovative construction methods such as pre-fabricated viaduct segments. High-quality construction methods will ensure maximum rail speed of up to 160kmph.


Image: A rendering of the Malolos-Clark Railway project. Photo: Courtesy of JICA.

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