MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Corp. (SMC) broke ground yesterday for the P69.3-billion Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7) project, marking the start of the construction of the 23-kilo-meter elevated railway from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.
The project is being implemented by newly-formed SMC Mass Rail Transit 7 Inc., under SMC’s infrastructure subsidiary San Miguel Holdings Inc., with contractor Hyundai ROTEM and EEI Consortium.
MRT-7 will consist of 14 stations namely: Quezon North Avenue Joint Station; Quezon Memorial Circle; University Avenue; Tandang Sora; Don Antonio; Batasan; Manggahan; Dona Carmen; Regalado; Mindanao Avenue; Quirino; Sacred Heart; Tala; and San Jose del Monte.
The upcoming train line will connect with Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) which runs from North Avenue station in Quezon City until Taft station in Pasay City, with the provision to link to Light Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) covering Roosevelt station in Quezon City until Baclaran station in Pasay City.
From an initial daily capacity of 350,000 passengers, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said during the groundbreaking, the company is aiming to eventually bring up MRT-7’s capacity to cater to over 800,000 passengers per day.
During peak hours, MRT-7 will be able to accommodate 28,000 passengers per hour, per direction, and can be scaled up to serve 38,000 passengers.
Apart from the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the railway, SMC will also be building a 23-km road from the Balagtas Interchange of North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) until the Intermodal Transport Terminal in San Jose Del Monte, under its 35-year concession agreement with the government.
SMC will likewise put up a depot in San Jose del Monte to house a control center, administrative offices, warehouse and facilities for train cars.
“We expect to complete MRT-7 in three to four years,” Ang said.
Ang said SMC expects the MRT-7 to contribute about five percent of SMC’s revenues, when the railway starts operations.
Once the MRT-7 is completed, he said commuters’ travel time would be reduced to 30 minutes from two hours at present.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the new railway would provide relief to commuters who ply the heavily congested Commonwealth Avenue area for work and school on a daily basis.
“The new railway system will not only significantly lessen travel time along this corridor, but also help decongest traffic in Caloocan and NLEx,” he said.
The project is also expected to provide other benefits.
“For wage-earners, it means having more choices when it comes to place of work. It gives our citizens greater access to education and healthcare. For senior citizens and people with disabilities, an efficient public transport system allows them to travel more freely,” Ang said.
At present, Metro Manila is served by three rail lines such as LRT 1, LRT-2 which covers Santolan station in Pasig City until Recto station in Manila, and MRT-3.
Source: Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star)