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North–South Commuter Railway

The North–South Commuter Railway or NSCR, also known as the Clark–Calamba Railway, is a 147 kilometer elevated railway under construction. It will run from New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to Calamba, Laguna, with a total of 36 stations.[1][2] It will also feature the first direct airport link in the country, serving Clark International Airport.

PNR North–South Commuter Railway
PNR NSCR New Tutuban.jpg
Artist rendering of the new Tutuban railway station.
TypeCommuter rail
Airport rail link
Regional rail
SystemPhilippine National Railways
StatusNSCR North 1: Under construction
NSCR North 2: For bidding
NSCR South: Approved
LocaleCentral Luzon, Metro Manila, Calabarzon
TerminiNew Clark City
OpenedNSCR North: 2021 (Tutuban-Malolos)
2023 (Malolos-Clark)
2025 (full operations)
OwnerDepartment of Transportation
Philippine National Railways
Line length147 km (91 mi) total
91 km (57 mi) (North section)
56 km (35 mi) (South section)
Number of tracks2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification1,500 V DC OHLE
Operating speed120 km/h (75 mph) (commuter service)
160 km/h (99 mph) (airport express)
Route map

New Clark City
Mabalacat Depot
Clark International Airport
Clark International Airport
Quitangil River
Abacan River
Sindalan Creek
San Fernando
San Fernando River
Malolos South
Guiguinto River
Santol River
Bocaue River
Igulot River
Marilao River
Meycauayan River
Valenzuela Depot
Tutuban Railyard &
Tayuman Locomotive Shed
Valencia Estuary
Santa Mesa
Tripa de Gallina Estuary
Estero de Tripa de Gallina
Ninoy Aquino International Airport 9 
Left arrowNAIA Terminal 3 - Quirino HighwayRight arrow
Sucat River
Bayanan Creek
Poblacion River
Magdaong River
Tunasan River
San Isidro River
San Pedro
Biñan River
Silang-Sta. Rosa River
Santa Rosa
Cabuyao River
Cabuyao River
Banlic Depot

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.[3][4] The project will also restore historical station buildings.[4]

Originally planned in the 1990s as the Manila–Clark rapid railway system with Spain, it was cancelled after disagreement on the funding.[5] It was then revived 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.[5][6][7][8][9]

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 linked to existing and future railway lines such as Line 8, Line 9, the PNR South Long Haul and PNR Calamba-Batangas City Railway.[10][11]

The railway system is expected to cost ₱777.55 billion (US$14.95 billion), making it one of the most expensive projects of the Build! Build! Build! Infrastructure Program.[11][12] Partial operations will begin by 2021, and full operations is expected to begin by 2025.[13]



Manila–Clark rapid railway systemEdit

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.[5] 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 the parties disagreed on the source of funding for the project.[5]

On September 1999, the NEDA-ICC later approved the project, then known as the 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.[5] 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.[5]

NorthRail projectEdit

On September 14, 2002, a memorandum of understanding was signed by NorthRail and China National Machinery and Equipment Group (CNMEG) for the project.[5] It was later approved as the NorthRail project on August 5, 2003, with the first phase covering Caloocan to Malolos segment.[5] 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.[5][7][14]

The 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.[5] Preparatory construction began in early November 2006. Due to delays in the construction work, it was soon renegotiated with the Chinese government. Construction temporarily continued in January 2009 with the support of the North Luzon Railways Corporation.[5]

Aquino administrationEdit

The NorthRail project was cancelled in March 2011, due to a series of delays, work stoppages, a controversy and anomalies with the foreign contractor.[7][8][9] 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.[6] However, nothing materialized out of these talks.[8]

The Philippine Supreme Court handed down in March 2012 a decision giving a lower court the go-signal to hear the case calling for the annulment of the allegedly overpriced contract. Instead of settling the entire US$184 million due in 2012, the Department of Finance will pay Export-Import Bank of China 4 equal payments of $46 million starting September 2012.[15] National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan said the 80-kilometer Northrail project would resume within the term of President Benigno Aquino III,[15] but despite this announcement, the Northrail project was scrapped and replaced under different terms with different contractors.

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.[16][17]

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


On November 2017, DOTr, BCDA, and North Luzon Railways reached an out-of-court settlement with Sinomach, resolving the five-year dispute.[18][7] The new name for the 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.[19]

The Japan International Cooperation Agency will finance NSCR North 1, while the remaining sections will be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank.[3][12][13][20][21][22]


NSCR North (Tutuban–Malolos–Clark)Edit

NSCR North, also known as PNR Clark, was divided into two phases. NSCR North 1 involves the 37.6 km (23.4 mi) Tutuban-Malolos segment, while NSCR North 2 involves the 74 km (46 mi) Malolos–Clark Railway. The 106-kilometer railway line, when fully completed, will run from Tutuban Station in Manila to New Clark City (NCC), passing through Clark International Airport (CIA).[23][24]

Pre-construction work such as clearing of the right of way was started on January 2018. The groundbreaking and construction from Tutuban to Malolos started on February 15, 2019.[22][25] The contract for the construction of PNR North 1 was awarded to the Filipino-Japanese consortium of DMCI Holdings and Taisei Corporation on May 21, 2019.[11][26]

On the other hand, the first three contracts for the construction of NSCR North 2 had been opened on August 2019. A record 11 firms from various ADB member countries participated in the bid.[27]

NSCR North 1 is expected to be completed by 2021,[11] While NSCR North 2 is slated for operation 2 years later by 2023.[28]

NSCR South (Solis–Calamba)Edit

The existing Metro Commuter Line will be reconstructed as an elevated electrified standard-gauge line.[29][30] The 56 km (35 mi) railway will run from Solis, Manila to Calamba, Laguna. It is expected to be completed by 2025.[13]


The line will be the first commuter rail system in the country to be mostly grade-separated. Trains are designed to run at a design speed of 120 km/h for regular trains and 160 km/h for airport express trains.

Station layoutEdit

All stations will have a standard layout, with a concourse level and a platform level. Stations will either have island platforms or side platforms with platform screen doors. The stations will be designed to have barrier-free design, and trains shall have spaces for passengers using wheelchairs. All stations will have access to intermodal facilities.[13]

The train stations are also designed to adhere to both Philippine and Japanese standards.


The table below shows the proposed train operation schedule and stations for the line.[31]

Line Station Location Services Transfers
Commuter Commuter express Limited express Through service to/from
Line 9[31]
NCC–Tutuban CIA–Calamba Tutuban–Calamba NCC–Tutuban CIA–Calamba Tutuban–Calamba
NSCR North 2 New Clark City (NCC) Capas, Tarlac
Clark International Airport (CIA) Mabalacat, Pampanga
Angeles Angeles, Pampanga
San Fernando San Fernando, Pampanga
Apalit Apalit, Pampanga
Calumpit Calumpit, Bulacan
Malolos Malolos, Bulacan
NSCR North 1
Malolos South
Guiguinto Guiguinto, Bulacan
Balagtas Balagtas, Bulacan
Bocaue Bocaue, Bulacan
Tabing Ilog Marilao, Bulacan
Meycauayan Meycauayan, Bulacan
Valenzuela Valenzuela
Valenzuela Polo
Malabon Malabon
Caloocan Caloocan
Solis Manila
Tutuban Tutuban (Line 2)
NSCR South Blumentritt Blumentritt (Line 1)
España Antipolo (Line 8)
Santa Mesa Pureza (Line 2)
Buendia Makati
EDSA Magallanes (Line 3)
Nichols Taguig Lawton West (Line 9)
FTI FTI (Line 9)
Bicutan Parañaque
Sucat Muntinlupa PNR South Long Haul[31]
San Pedro San Pedro, Laguna
Biñan Biñan, Laguna
Santa Rosa Santa Rosa, Laguna
Cabuyao Cabuyao, Laguna
Calamba Calamba, Laguna
Stations in italics will open in 2030.

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

Rolling stockEdit

Rolling stock[31] Commuter train[12] Airport express
Manufacturer Japan Transport Engineering Company TBD
Number to be built TBD TBD
Length 20,000 mm TBD
Width 2,950 mm TBD
Height 4,150mm (when pantograph is folded)

1,130~1,150 mm (floor height)

Body material Light weight stainless steel TBD
Empty weight 152,000 kg (4 car Train set)[32] TBD
Capacity Leading car: 266 seated, 45 standing

Intermediate car: 285 seated. 54 standing

(7 passengers m²)

Doors 4 doors per side TBD
Traction power 1,500 V overhead catenary 1,500 V overhead catenary
Top speed 120 km/h 160 km/h
Status To be built To be ordered


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Main Points of the Roadmap (PDF) (Report). Japan International Cooperation Agency. September 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-11.
  2. ^ a b "Pre-bid Conference for Contract Packages CP01 and CP02 North–South Commuter Railway" (PDF). June 1, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "PH, Japan sign P78-b loan for Luzon railway network". Manila Standard. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  4. ^ a b "Project_Details - BUILD". Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k News, ABS-CBN. "Off track: Northrail timeline". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  6. ^ a b Bordadora, Norman. "China open to reconfiguring NorthRail project, says Roxas". Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  7. ^ a b c d Inquirer, Philippine Daily. "WHAT WENT BEFORE: The Northrail Project". Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  8. ^ a b c "Philippines: China-funded Northrail project derailed". Financial Times. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  9. ^ a b "U.P. study finds North Rail contract illegal, disadvantageous to government". The PCIJ Blog. September 9, 2005. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Camus, Miguel R. "DOTr plans to integrate new railway lines". Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  11. ^ a b c d "You are being redirected..." Retrieved 2019-05-10.
  12. ^ a b c Charm, Neil. "DoTr prepares to award rolling stock contract | BusinessWorld". Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  13. ^ a b c d Bank, Asian Development (2019-07-10). "Malolos–Clark Railway Project: North-South Commuter Railway, PNR Clark - Phase 2". Asian Development Bank. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  14. ^ "RP, China break ground for Manila–Ilocos railway". Malaya. April 6, 2004. Archived from the original on May 9, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Basa, Mick. "Northrail project up for NEDA-ICC approval soon". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  16. ^ "DOTC eyes elevated railway from Malolos to Los Banos". ABS-CBN News. 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Paz, Chrisee Dela. "PH gov't ends dispute with China's Sinomach over Northrail project". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  19. ^ Paz, Chrisee Dela. "17 stations of Manila–Clark railway announced". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  20. ^ Rey, Aika. "Philippines, Japan sign $1.54-billion loan deal on North-South Railway". Rappler. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  21. ^ "Gov't secures P98.7 billion JICA loans for railway, flood control". Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  22. ^ a b "Construction of Tutuban–Malolos railway begins". Manila Bulletin News. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  23. ^ 17 stations of Manila–Clark Railway revealed Rappler. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  24. ^ DOTr leads marking of Manila–Clark railway’s 5 future stations Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  25. ^ "Department of Transportation – Philippines". Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  26. ^ "DMCI, Japanese partner bag P54-B contract for North-South Commuter Railway project". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  27. ^ "Malolos-Clark rail auction draws 11 firms". BusinessWorld Online. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  28. ^ "Malolos-Clark rail auction draws 11 firms". BusinessWorld Online. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  29. ^ Dela Paz, Chrissie (September 13, 2017). "NEDA Board approves Manila subway, longest railway". Rappler. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  30. ^ Leyco, Chino S. (September 13, 2017). "NEDA Board approves big infra projects". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  32. ^ "Railway Systems-Project Record View". Retrieved 2018-02-22.