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Rail links to 2 Bulacan towns under study

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THE Transportation department said on Thursday that it is studying possible rail connections to two towns in Bulacan — Santa Maria and Norzagaray.

Bulacan Rep. Salvador A. Pleyto asked the Department of Transportation (DoTr) during a House committee hearing on Thursday about the possibility of connecting the two towns to either the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) or the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7), which ends in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, just south of Norzagaray.

Undersecretary for Railways Cesar B. Chavez responded, “There are three ways. One, we can ask the developer of MRT-7 to extend its project from San Jose del Monte to Balagtas passing through your areas, Norzagaray and Santa Maria, probably.”

MRT-7, an integrated transit system undertaken and funded by San Miguel Corp., is a 22-kilometer rail and road development starting in North Avenue, Quezon City, and ending in San Jose del Monte. It is expected to start operations next year.

“Second, we can ask for another study. This time… maybe from NSCR (Malolos) to Balagtas connecting to your areas, which are also recognized as very, very densely populated areas,” Mr. Chavez told Mr. Pleyto.

The NSCR is a 148-kilometer railway system with 37 stations. The project has three segments  — Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos), PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark), and PNR Calamba (Solis-Calamba).

The third option, according to Mr. Chavez, is to team up with a private company under a public-private partnership program.

“But ang tingin po natin dyan mas realistic na pwedeng gawing extension ng MRT-7 po ’yan papunta sa inyo, anyway ang MRT-7 naman ay hanggang San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (We consider an MRT-7 extension from San Jose del Monte to be more realistic,” he noted.

In his first address to Congress in July, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said that his government intends to “build upon already existing lines by modernizing the old railway systems.”

“This administration is committed to finishing the current portfolio of investments — approved railway projects such as the North-South Commuter Railway System, the Metro Manila Subway project, the LRT-1 Cavite Extension, the MRT-7, and the Common Station that will connect LRT-1, MRT-3 and MRT-7,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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