Russia interested in North Rail project

Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Russians would like to help restart the long-stalled North Rail project, a possibility to be formally explored in bilateral talks with Philippine government officials last night.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade disclosed to The STAR the Russian proposal on the North Rail project is in the bilateral discussions with the official delegation of Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev.

Tugade is part of the Philippine panel of government officials who will join President Duterte in talks with his Russian counterpart.

He earlier signed the memorandum of agreement with China on the official withdrawal from the North Rail project that was sidetracked during previous administrations amid corruption allegations.

The North Luzon Railways Corp. (Northrail) has reached an out-of-court settlement with China National Machinery & Equipment Corp. Group, now known as China National Machinery Industry Corp. (Sinomach), in an arbitration case involving the 80-kilometer railroad linking the northern part of Metro Manila to the Clark International Airport. 

The settlement practically ensures the Manila to Clark Railway project will proceed without issue. The P255-billion Manila to Clark Railway is among the priority projects under the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program.

Through the project, the government aims to decongest Metro Manila and at the same time bring growth to the northern regions. The railway is expected to serve about 350,000 passengers per day in its first year of operations.

Tugade pointed out that the Russian offer to build the North Rail would be an opportunity to revive this much needed railway system.

The Russian Federation president is here attending the East Asia Summit (EAS) taking place after the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Summit being hosted this year by the Philippines.

On the eve of EAS, Medvedev confirmed Russian interest to promote trade, industry and other economic partnerships with the Philippines and the rest of the 10-member ASEAN.


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