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North-South Commuter Railway (Philippines)

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PNR North-South Commuter Rail
TypeCommuter rail
SystemPhilippine National Railways
StatusPNR Clark 1: Under construction
PNR Clark 2: Approved
PNR South: Approved
LocaleTarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Laguna
TerminiNew Clark City
OpenedPNR Clark 1 - 2021 (estimated)
OwnerDepartment of Transportation, Philippine National Railways
Line lengthNorth Line: 38 km (PNR Clark 1)
53 km (PNR Clark 2)
South Line: 56 km
Total: 147 km
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

The North–South Commuter Railway or NSCR, also known as the Clark-Calamba Railway, is a 147 kilometer elevated railway from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna, with a total of 36 stations.[1][2]

Originally planned during the administration of Fidel Ramos with Spain, it was cancelled after disagreement on the funding.[3] It was then revived by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the Northrail project, but was cancelled again in March 2011, due to anomalies with the contract and the foreign contractor, as well as allegations of being overpriced.[3][4][5][6][7]

Utilizing the old right-of-way of Philippine National Railways, the NSCR will form one railway system serving commuters travelling to, from, and within Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.[8]

NSCR will be a double-track fully elevated railway system and will feature barrier-free access as well as metro-grade rolling stock. It will also be integrated with the Metro Manila Subway, PNR Batangas Railway, and the PNR South Long Haul.[9]



Manila-Clark Rapid Railway System[edit]

A railway system running from Manila to Clark was set to be constructed in the 1990s, when then President Fidel Ramos signed a memorandum of agreement with Juan Carlos I of Spain for its construction on September of 1994.[3] On August 24, 1995, North Luzon Railways was formed as a subsidiary of Bases Conversion and Development Authority. The NLRC then entered into an Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contract (EPRC) with the Spanish Railways Corporation on February 7, 1996, but the contract was later terminated on August 14, 1998 after both parties disagreed on the source of funding for the project.[3]

On September 1999, the NEDA-ICC later approved the project, then known as Manila-Clark Rapid Railway System, with Phase 1 covering the Caloocan-Calumpit segment and the source of funding to be the Obuchi Fund from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.[3] Right-of-way clearing and relocation of informal settlers began, but a presidential directive later halted the clearing activities, and the JBIC loan never happened.[3]

Northrail project[edit]

On September 14, 2002, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by NorthRail and China National Machinery and Equipment Group (CNMEG) for the project.[3] It was later approved as the NorthRail project on August 5, 2003, with the first phase covering Caloocan to Malolos segment.[3] The project was estimated to cost around US$500 million, and the funding was to be covered by a US$400 million by the Export-Import Bank of China, and the rest to be shouldered by the government through BCDA and NLRC.[3][5][10]

The Northrail project involved the upgrading of the existing single track to an elevated dual-track system, converting the rail gauge from narrow gauge to standard gauge, and linking Manila to Malolos City in Bulacan and further on to Angeles City, Clark Special Economic Zone and the Clark International Airport.[3] Prepatory construction began in early November 2006. Due to delays in the construction work, it was soon being renegotiated with the Chinese government. Construction temporarily continued in January 2009 with the support of the North Luzon Railways Corporation.[3]

Aquino administration[edit]

The project was cancelled in March 2011, due to a series of delays, work stoppages, a controversy and anomalies with the foreign contractor.[5][6][7] According to then DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, the Chinese were open to reconfiguring the project, and that he was meeting with his Chinese counterpart in a month's time.[4] However, nothing materialized out of these talks.[6]

The Department of Transportation and Communications has examined reviving the project by commissioning a feasibility study by CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada. Part of the study examined having a Malolos-Tutuban-Calamba-Los Baños Commuter Line.[11][12]

A feasibility study for the North-South Commuter Rail was still ongoing when the NEDA approved the dream plan in 2014.[1]


The dispute with Sinomach was resolved on November 2017.[13][5] The new name for the old Northrail project was announced by Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on June 25, 2017 with a ceremony in which the first 5 stations were given their location markers.[14]

Japan has signed loan agreements to finance the North-South Commuter Railway project.[8][15][16][17]


North Line (Tutuban-Malolos-Clark)[edit]

The North Line was divided into two phases. PNR Clark 1 involves the 37.6 kilometer Tutuban-Malolos segment, while PNR Clark 2 involves the 74 kilometer Malolos-Clark Railway. The 106-kilometer railway line, when fully completed, will run from Tutuban Station in Manila to New Clark City, passing through Clark International Airport. The railway will cost ₱255 billion (US$5.1 billion) with financial assistance from Japan.[18][19]

Pre-construction work such as clearing of the right of way was started on January 2018. The groundbreaking and "full-blast construction" from Tutuban to Malolos started on February 15.[17][20]

South Line (Solis-Calamba)[edit]

The existing Metro Commuter Line will be reconstructed as an electrified standard-gauge full double-track line. On September 12, 2017, the National Economic and Development Authority approved the construction of the newer line, as part of the longer Long-haul Railway that will connect to Legazpi and Matnog, and Batangas City.[21][22] Funding for the project, which costs ₱131 billion, is provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and is expected to serve 300,000 passengers a day at its initial year of operation.[21] The 55.6 kilometer railway will run from Solis in Manila to Calamba, Laguna.


The North-South Commuter Railway will have provisions for additional stations to be added.[2]

North Line[edit]

Name Transfers Location
New Clark City none Tarlac
Clark International Airport Pampanga
San Fernando
Malolos Bulacan
Caloocan Caloocan
Solis Manila
Tutuban LRT-2

South Line[edit]

Name Transfers Location
Solis none Manila
Santa Mesa
Buendia Makati
Pasay Road
Nichols none Taguig
FTI Metro Manila Subway
Bicutan none
Sucat Muntinlupa
San Pedro Laguna
Santa Rosa
Calamba PNR Batangas Railway

PNR South Long Haul

Rolling stock[edit]

The North-South Commuter Rail shall consist of 58 8-car trains, with 7 airport express trains, that can carry approximately 2,200 passengers in each set. It will weigh 270 tonnes. Its maximum train design and service speed is 120 km/h.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Main Points of the Roadmap (PDF) (Report). Japan International Cooperation Agency. September 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-11.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "PRE-BID CONFERENCE FOR CONTRACT PACKAGES CP01 and CP02 North-South Commuter Railway" (PDF). philgeps.gov.ph. June 1, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018. line feed character in |title= at position 19 (help)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 News, ABS-CBN. "Off track: Northrail timeline". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bordadora, Norman. "China open to reconfiguring NorthRail project, says Roxas". newsinfo.inquirer.net. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Inquirer, Philippine Daily. "WHAT WENT BEFORE: The Northrail Project". newsinfo.inquirer.net. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Philippines: China-funded Northrail project derailed". Financial Times. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "U.P. study finds North Rail contract illegal, disadvantageous to government". The PCIJ Blog. September 9, 2005. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "PH, Japan sign P78-b loan for Luzon railway network". Manila Standard. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  9. Camus, Miguel R. "DOTr plans to integrate new railway lines". business.inquirer.net. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  10. "RP, China break ground for Manila-Ilocos railway". Malaya. April 6, 2004. Archived from the original on May 9, 2010.
  11. <http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/07/22/13/dotc-eyes-elevated-railway-malolos-los-banos
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. Paz, Chrisee Dela. "PH gov't ends dispute with China's Sinomach over Northrail project". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  14. Paz, Chrisee Dela. "17 stations of Manila-Clark Railway announced". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  15. Rey, Aika. "Philippines, Japan sign $1.54-billion loan deal on North-South Railway". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  16. "Gov't secures P98.7 billion JICA loans for railway, flood control". philstar.com. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Construction of Tutuban-Malolos railway begins". Manila Bulletin News. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  18. 17 stations of Manila-Clark Railway revealed Rappler. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  19. DOTr leads marking of Manila-Clark railway’s 5 future stations Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  20. "Department of Transportation - Philippines". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Dela Paz, Chrissie (September 13, 2017). "NEDA Board approves Manila subway, longest railway". Rappler. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  22. Leyco, Chino S. (September 13, 2017). "NEDA Board approves big infra projects". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved September 15, 2017.

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