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NLEx-SLEx elevated link not good for PNR, traffic

opinion / Latest Opinion
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NLEx-SLEx elevated link not good for PNR, traffic

/ 12:14 AM April 21, 2017

This is to call the attention of the concerned government agencies—the Philippine National Railways (PNR), the Department of Transportation, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Manila Tollways Company (MTC)—to the plan to construct an elevated expressway running above the railroad track in Metro Manila. The expressway will connect the NLEx and SLEx and will be above the busiest portion of the PNR line from Caloocan to Makati. Actually the idea is not something new; this was hatched during the Ramos presidency. Its proponents were former PNR general manager Jose Dado and former transportation secretary Sonny Garcia.

The proposed project is very one-sided. While the tollway company will gain a lot from this enterprise, the PNR which will gain nothing and eventually will be at the losing end because MTC’s superstructure, “piggy backing” on PNR’s right of way, will prevent PNR from expanding, upgrading and modernizing this particular portion of the railway line, hence jeopardizing the entire railroad system’s potential to move more passengers and cargoes—more than its present capacity—in the future.

The 30-meter width of the right of way is barely enough to safely accommodate the double tracks existing within Metro Manila. This leaves only 12
meters—more or less—on both sides of the track which by itself must be reserved for the construction of a third and fourth track (should this become necessary) and for other related infrastructure essential to maximizing train operation on this heavily traveled portion of the PNR line.

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With massive concrete piers to be constructed within the railroad right of way, the PNR can no longer expand its lines to a third or fourth track as stated earlier. Also, the elevated carriageway will impede any future plan to elevate or raise the existing railroad embankment above Metro Manila’s flood level.

In view of this, the concerned government officials should consider scrapping of this project. They must look for an alternative route for the NLEx-SLEx Connection Highway.

But if they believe that this project is, indeed, of great importance, may I request a comprehensive revision of its design—to allow way for the possible modernization, upgrading and expansion of the affected portion of the PNR line. The MTC should shoulder the additional expenses for the construction of additional railroad tracks, perimeter fences, signaling system, etc.

The railroad system is the cheapest and most efficient mode of transportation. In the light of the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, the railroad is the answer to this complex problem.

The existing right of way must be preserved at all costs to serve its primary purpose. Let us not squander it or use it for purposes alien to railroad operation. An improved railroad system will benefit millions of car-less commuters. It will alleviate the plight of the common tao by providing them with a cheap, comfortable, fast and reliable mode of transport. Whereas an elevated highway will only benefit a few thousand families who can afford the high toll fees.

FRAN ERNESTO A. FLORENTINO,
paolonbalagtas@yahoo.com

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TAGS: NLEx and SLEx, Philippine National Railways (PNR), traffic
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