AfDB Approves $4.3 Billion Loans for Southern Commuter Rail Project


The Asian Development Bank (AfDB) has approved up to $4.3 billion in loans to finance the construction of the Southern Commuter Railway project.

The railway stretches nearly 55 kilometers (km) and will connect Metro Manila to Calamba, Laguna. The project is part of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) network and is AfDB’s largest infrastructure financing project to date.

After construction, the South Commuter Railway is expected to provide rapid transit, reduce traffic congestion and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also cut the travel time between Manila and Calamba in half from the 2.5 hours it would usually take by road..

“The South Commuter Railway project will provide affordable, safe, reliable and fast public transport for commuters,” said Ahmed M. Saeed, AfDB Vice President for East Asia, South Asia East and the Pacific.

“This project represents the AfDB’s largest infrastructure investment and reflects our commitment to helping the Philippines achieve its goals of reducing poverty, improving the lives of Filipinos and achieving green economic growth, resilient and elevated,” he added.

The project will involve the construction of 18 stations, with provisions for accessibility for the elderly, women, children and people with disabilities.

The line will connect to the future Metro Manila subway system.

“The Southern Commuter Railway project will be financed under a multi-tranche financing facility, with the first tranche of $1.75 billion to be made available starting this year,” the AfDB said.

Releases of the second and third tranches are expected in 2024 and 2026, respectively. The AfDB will finance the civil works of the railway viaduct, stations, bridges, tunnels and depot buildings. The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also co-financing the loan, financing rail vehicles and rail systems.

The NSCR, which also includes the ongoing construction of the Malolos-Clark line, is expected to generate over 35,500 jobs during construction, while providing another 3,200 permanent jobs during operation.

The AfDB study on the Southern Commuter Railway project found that cities and municipalities that have stations along the line will have access to more than 300,000 jobs on average, an average increase of 15, 3% in cities south of the capital, with the corresponding growth seen at 8.5% in Metro Manila.

“This will create a substantial growth multiplier effect in the economy through contracts with suppliers and new opportunities opened up with better connectivity in the region,” the AfDB said. — Tobias Jared Tomas

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