image from Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Seven years since the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT7) was awarded, winning concessionaire San Miguel Corporation-backed Universal LRT Corporation BVI Limited (ULC) is finally ready to start the construction of the much-awaited rail system this February.
This was after the MRT7 concessionaire fully complied with the financial closure requirements. (READ: A long, winding road for better Metro Manila transport)
The rail component of the MRT7 project involves the construction of a 22.8-kilometer rail-transit system that will operate 108 rail cars in a 3-car train configuration, with a daily passenger capacity ranging from 448,000 to 850,000.
It also involves the construction of 14 train stations starting from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, to North Avenue, Quezon City. It will be connected to the existing MRT3 and Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT1) via a common station on EDSA.
With the submission of the documents, San Miguel’s ULC has achieved financial closure under the terms of the MRT7’s concession agreement.
Financial closure is the last remaining hurdle for San Miguel before construction can begin on the MRT7, after the company received a performance undertaking from the Department of Finance (DOF) in August 2014.
The construction of the P62.7-billion ($1.32-billion) railway public-private partnership (PPP) project has been delayed for over 7 years, after San Miguel initially failed to secure a performance undertaking.
It also faced delays due to a change in the terms of the deal, which is the location of the proposed common station on EDSA.
MRT7’s 25-year concession agreement calls for the common station to be located near SM City-North EDSA.
But DOTC had decided to transfer it near Ayala Land, Incorporated’s TriNoma mall, adjacent to SM City North, saying that it will “benefit commuters more.”
The DOTC in 2008 signed a contract with ULC to undertake the construction of the railway system.
San Miguel, through subsidiary San Miguel Holdings Corporation, has a 51% interest in ULC, which in turn holds a 25-year concession for the railway-cum-road project.
After years of delay
The MRT7 concessionaire said it has asked the DOTC to determine the date for the project’s groundbreaking.
Meanwhile, the MRT7 construction timeline submitted by MRT7 contractor Hyundai Rotem-EEI consortium has been approved by the DOTC.
The construction timeline calls for the commencement of the MRT7 construction and construction-related activities on February 18 this year and the completion on August 17, 2019.