By Arjay L. Balinbin, February 13, 2020; Business World

Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), operator of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), said it is on track to meet the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) timeline to open the first phase of the Cavite extension project for partial operations by the last quarter of next year.

“The DoTr is pushing us to finish as early as possible. I think kaya naman (it’s possible) based on the timeline nila (of the department). They requested to finish by next year. We are coordinating with them. Right now it seems na kaya naman s’ya (it can be met),” LRMC President and Chief Executive Officer Juan F. Alfonso told reporters on Wednesday on the sidelines of the operator’s launching of its annual “LRT-1 Love Train” ahead of Valentine’s Day.

The P64.9-billion LRT-1 Cavite extension project, a public-private partnership (PPP) venture that the National Economic and Development Authority board approved in November 2013, aims to add an 11.7-kilometer Baclaran-Bacoor, Cavite segment to the existing 18.1-kilometer train line. The new stretch will have eight stations.

The first phase of the extension consists of a seven-kilometer stretch with five stations between the Redemptorist Church area in Baclaran and Dr. Santos Ave. in Parañaque.

As for the status of the rights-of-way acquired for the first phase, Mr. Alfonso said it remains over 90% as what was reported in October last year.

“May ilang inaaayos sa ibang stations pero (Some issues are being resolved for some stations, but) I think we have solutions,” he said.

Mr. Alfonso said piling works for the first phase are “continuing,” and that construction works have started in the Parañaque portion of the extension project.

He said right-of-way is being worked out for the second phase, which will have three stations from Las Piñas to Niog.

The remaining three stations are scheduled for completion in 2022.

Mr. Alfonso said part of the project is the acquisition of 30 new train sets from Mitsubishi Corp. and its technical partner Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles.

“I think may darating na (some are arriving) — for the pilot test — two or three train sets. In fact, ‘yung engineers namin papunta na sa abroad, tsini-check ‘yung train sets natin (our engineers are going abroad to check our train sets),” he said.

Once LRT-1’s Cavite extension opens to the public, the DoTr expects daily ridership along the entire line to increase to 800,000 passengers from 500,000 currently, and Baclaran-Bacoor travel time to be cut to 25 minutes from up to two hours.

LRMC is the joint venture of Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. It holds the P65-billion, 32-year PPP contract to operate LRT-1 and build its extension to Cavite.

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