ADB finances largest ever infrastructure project

28 May 19

The Asian Development Bank is embarking on its largest ever project to finance infrastructure by funding a key railway line in the Philippines.

It will provide $2.75bn (£2.1bn) to build a 33-mile (53.1 km) passenger railway connecting the Manila suburb of Malolos and the Clark economic zone in Central Luzon.

The Malolos–Clark railway project will ease chronic traffic jams, reduce air pollution, cut transport costs, and encourage a population shift from the country’s crowded capital to growing regions in the north.

“ADB’s partnership with the Philippines has always been strong, and it has become stronger in the last three years,” said Takehiko Nakao, ADB’s president.

“The government’s Build, Build, Build programme is clearly steering the much-needed acceleration in infrastructure spending, from less than 2% of GDP a decade ago to 6.3% now – well on track to achieve the 7% target by 2022.

“One of the key flagship projects of the BBB programme is the Malolos–Clark railway.”

The railway line forms part of the government’s north–south commuter railway initiative, which is expected to be completed by 2025.

This 163km suburban train network will stretch from New Clark City in Tarlac in the north to Calamba in the south of Manila.

The Malolos–Clark project is likely to cater for an expected 342,000 daily passengers, cutting the travel time from Manila to Clark International Airport to less than one hour, as well as up to 696,000 passengers travelling every day to Calamba.

“It will be ADB’s single largest infrastructure project financing ever, and from a development perspective, we are pleased this investment is taking place in ADB’s host country,” Nakao added.

“The project, combined with other investments in light rail transit, metro rail transit, and subway systems, will bring back the culture of rail transport in Metro Manila,”

ADB’s 2018–2023 Country Partnership Strategy for the Philippines envisages major support for the Philippines’ BBB programme.

The bank will finance civil engineering work along the Malolos–Clark line including stations, bridges, and viaducts as well as a tunnel leading to the underground station at Clark International Airport.

The project is co-financed with up to $2bn by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which will finance the rolling stock and the railway systems.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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