Ilonggos upbeat on revival of Panay Railways

PIA Press Release Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ilonggos upbeat on revival of Panay Railways

by Elsa S. Subong

ILOILO CITY, May 4 (PIA) – Tired of the heavy traffic and the long hours of travel from the city to the ports to Boracay, Ilonggos are upbeat and positive that in the opportune time, they will have the convenience of travelling by train again.

Philippine Railways Officer-in-Charge Director Cesar Capellan said in a broadcast interview that with the Regional Development Council’s endorsement during its recent meeting, though the realization may take some time, it is not a far dream.

Erlinda Chua, OIC of Project Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the National Economic and Development Authority-6, said that the proposal will be evaluated by the Investment Coordinating Council in the national level, and will have to be approved by the Technical Committee and the NEDA Board.

After that, Chua said, since the project will be under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) scheme of the government, it will be sent back to the RDC and subjected to the usual review and evaluation procedure, until finally approved for implementation.

At present it is under review by the Investment Coordinating Council. After the NEDA’s final approval, it will be endorsed to the Department of Transportation and Communication for publication of the bidding.

Capellan said it is encouraging to note that there are now five foreign companies from Korea, Japan, China and Canada and a European countries which have expressed interest in investing in the Phase 1 of the project which costs about P16 billion.

He said Phase 1 covers the rehabilitation and establishment of the estimated 117-kilometer route from Iloilo City to Roxas City only, which was endorsed by NEDA.

Phase 2 includes already the route from Roxas City to Caticlan port, the jump-off point to Boracay.

The railway will traverse new routes from Ungka, Jaro, to Pavia, Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan, with major terminals in Jaro, Passi City, Dao in Capiz and Roxas City.

The fully air-conditioned train, a combination of automotive and electric motor, will take only five-minute stop in every major terminal and will be travelling at a speed of one hour and fifteen minutes from Iloilo to roxas City.

On issues of relocations for occupants of railroad tracks, Capellan said they have arranged with the local government units to provide for those along their areas who will be affected while the Philippine Railway, Inc. will provide financial assistance.

“Likewise, we have tapped the Gawad Kalinga villages to accommodate the relocatees,” Capellan said.

There are about 6,000 houses along the tracks that will be affected, from Iloilo to Roxas City.

Capellan said with the government’s major thrust on Public-Private Partnerships, the revival of the Panay Railways will not be a distant goal.

With train services, commuters, foreign and domestic tourists, even businessmen, will find it convenient, fast and enjoyable, Capellan said.

“We join all the Ilonngos who are upbeat on the revival. If we push through, we can see the whole project operational by 2015,” Capellan said. (JCM/ESS/PIA-Iloilo) - Timeline 2011