By Denise A. Valdez, August 29 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Business World

THE AUCTION for the contract to build the Malolos-Clark segment of the North South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project attracted “a record-high number” of bidders, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the department said nine foreign and two local firms — most of which formed joint ventures — are vying for three contract packages of the railway project, also called Philippine National Railway (PNR) Clark Phase 2. Their proposals were opened on Tuesday.

The foreign firms are Spain’s Acciona S.A.; South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd., Dong Ah Construction Industrial Co. Ltd. and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd.; Thailand’s Italian-Thai Development Public Company Ltd.; Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Corp.; as well as Indonesia’s PT Pembangunan Perumahan [PP], PT Waskita Karya Tbk and PT Wijaya Karya Tbk [Wika].

The local firms were EEI Corp. and Megawide Construction Corp.

PNR General Manager Junn B. Magno said the agency started yesterday evaluation of the bids that were submitted on Tuesday. “It will take probably another five to six weeks to conclude evaluation,” he said in a text message.

Three contract packages are covered by the auction: Package 1 for a 17-kilometer segment including Calumpit and Apalit stations, Package 2 for a 16 km stretch including San Fernando station and Package 3 for a 12 km section including Angeles and Clark stations.

The P283.8-billion Malolos-Clark railway of the P777.55-billion NSCR Project is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and therefore limits auction participants to ADB’s 68 member countries that include 19 outside Asia.

Mr. Magno said it could be the participants’ “biggest rail project in Southeast Asia if they ever got one package.”

The 53-km Malolos-Clark railway forms part of the 147-km NSCR project that is also composed of the 56-km Calamba-Tutuban and the 38-km Tutuban-Malolos lines.

Covered by the Malolos-Clark segment is the express railway service of NSCR that will link the train to Clark International Airport. Bids for this 8-kilometer track and the Clark depot are expected in October.

The government expects the Malolos-Clark railway, or PNR Clark Phase 2 that is scheduled to open in 2023, to reduce travel time between Clark airport and Makati Central Business District to 55 minutes from up to three hours currently.