THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) recently announced that everything is already set for the Philippine National Railways Clark Phase 1.
According to Secretary Arthur Tugade, they already secured 90.1 percent of right of way for this phase or 37.6 kilometers from Tutuban in Manila to Malolos in Bulacan.
Indeed, this is good news for North and Central Luzon. The PNR Clark project, once completed, will boost business, trade and tourism in these regions, much more inside Clark Freeport Zone.
Aside from Clark International Airport, the development of land transportation systems is vital to the holistic development of the two regions.
The movement of logistics to and from Clark, Subic and industrial areas in the North will definitely speed up as soon as the Clark-Manila PNR train becomes operational. Should the train be open to commuters, it will also serve as an alternate transportation for thousands of workers moving in and out of Metro Manila.
Providing better access to destinations and business centers is one the crucial factors needed to improve trade and tourism. This project is actually long overdue.
I remember that during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, talks on the Clark-Manila railway were already circulating. The project has been on the drawing board way before the Duterte administration.
If I am not mistaken, former mayor Edgardo Pamintuan was assigned as the head of the North Railways project then. But things slowed down until the project went cold.
Thanks to Sec. Tugade for pursuing the project, although his department is only putting up a regular railway system and not a bullet train.
Contrary to the common talks about a bullet train in Clark, it will take more years of perseverance before we can have one in the country.
And speaking of bullet trains, just a thought to ponder. China has the most number of bullet trains in the world. Among the countries where the fastest trains can be found are Japan, China, France, Spain and South Korea.
Again, access to technology, business, trade and tourism is a must if we want to keep abreast with globalization and be at par with our counterparts in Southeast Asia.
The national government is working on the right direction. Hopefully, this vision will continue until even after Duterte leaves Malacañang.
In Pampanga, all the major road networks are already in place. Only a few congested areas connected to Clark must be decongested and new access roads must be developed in Angeles City, Mabalacat City and City of San Fernando.