MetroPac, San Miguel compete for south rail

Conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. is set to compete with San Miguel Corp. for the  P170.7-billion south line of the North-South Railway Project, the largest public private partnership project to date.

PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said MPIC became the second company to purchase bid documents for the project, after San Miguel Corp.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. president Ramon Fernandez confirmed that MPIC purchased bid documents for south rail project on Sept. 11.

More than  30 foreign and local companies attended the pre-qualification conference for the south rail project held at Asian Development Bank office in August.

Transportation Department spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal said interested companies would have until Oct. 15 to buy and submit pre-qualification documents.

Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Venture, which earlier said  they would participate in the auction for the south rail, have yet to purchase bid documents.

The project will revive the  oldest rail system in Southeast Asia, beginning with the Manila-Legazpi section plus additional branch lines spanning 653 kilometers.

A two-stage bidding process will be adopted, with the pre-qualification date targeted in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Opening of bids will be held in January 2016 while awarding is expected in March 2016.

The winning bidder will operate, maintain and upgrade the south line for 34 years, including the construction period of four years.

Under the project’s terms, the winning bidder will take charge of designing, constructing, financing, operating and maintaining the 56-kilometer commuter rail service, for daily riders on the Tutuban, Manila to Calamba, Laguna route and the  478-kilometer long-haul rail service, for travelers on the Tutuban to Legazpi, Albay route.

The long-haul service may also have the  extensions from  Calamba, Laguna to Batangas City and from Legazpi to Matnog, Sorsogon.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said the south line would be the agency’s “biggest project yet.”

“This project will impact directly on a grassroots level. Those who have less in life, especially farmers and fisherfolk, will be given efficient means to expand their livelihood. This is our biggest project yet, and this is for those who need it most,” Abaya said.

Once the entire railway is operational by 2020, there will be 10 daily trips with seven train sets passing through 66 stations.

It is expected to serve 316,000 passengers a day in its opening year and encourage around 44,000 public and private vehicle owners to instead use the modernized railway.

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