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SMC plans MRT Loop to link Bulacan airport

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FOOD-to-infrastructure conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) plans to build an MRT Loop with an airport express – similar to Hong Kong’s much-touted MTR – that would seamlessly connect Metro Manila to its planned aerotropolis in Bulacan.

The planned elevated train system will span some 200 kilometers and will connect SMC’s proposed New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulakan, Bulacan to EDSA and various points in between, SMC president and COO Ramon Ang told reporters in an interview in his office.

While the stations are still being finalized, the MRT Loop is envisioned to include a non-stop high-speed train that would allow fast connection between EDSA and the Bulacan Airport.

“In 20 minutes, you will be at the airport,” Ang said.

He said this would be something like Hong Kong’s famous MTR which connects the airport and the city, and gives passengers the option for faster travel through the airport express line.

SMC is still finalizing the cost of the MRT Loop, but Ang said this would already be part of the total cost of the massive airport project estimated at $15 billion.

Aside from the mass transport system, SMC will also construct a $1 billion spillway for excess water from Angat and Ipo Dams to drain directly to the Manila Bay.

This, he said, would solve the perennial flooding problem in Bulacan.

“We need to finish the spillway in five to six years. Otherwise, it will destroy what we are building,” Ang said.

All these new infrastructure projects namely the MRT Loop, the Airport Express and the spillway are all intended to enhance the viability of SMC’s proposed Bulacan Airport and are targeted to be ready in five to six years.

“What we have is a complete masterplan,” Ang said.

He said the company could start operations of its proposed Bulacan Airport as early as six years upon approval of the $15-billion project, making it the fastest and most viable solution to the worsening problem at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

SMC’s strong balance sheet, he said, also shows that it has the financial muscle to fund the project on its own.

“Funding is not a problem. We have a strong balance sheet,” Ang said.

Ang trumpeted the proposal, saying that NMIA “will be the most modern airport in the country and would be a real game changer.”

Based on its blueprint, NMIA has the capability to have a total of four runways, with the first two already operational on the fifth year upon approval of the project, according to company documents. The last two runways will be operational by 2024.

To be developed on a 2,500-hectare property in Bulakan, Bulacan, NMIA can accommodate 100 to 200 million people, a far cry from NAIA’s capacity of 30 million passengers.

Furthermore, NMIA will be capable of handling 60 aircraft movements per hour per runway compared to NAIA’s current runway capacity of 45 movements per hour, the project’s blueprint further showed.

More importantly, SMC said its proposal cuts the construction timeline by half as it would not require sea reclamation compared to the proposal to develop a new airport off Sangley Point in Cavite.

For the funding, SMC said the project would be entail no cost to the government.

In terms of contribution to the economy, SMC estimates that NMIA can contribute as much as P395 billion to the economy by 2025 and can generate 1.8 million jobs by that time.

Last April, the National Economic and Development Authority board gave the green light for SMC’s Bulacan airport project. But the project still needs to be subjected to a Swiss challenge.

Calls for a new premier international airport in the country are mounting after NAIA was marred by flight disruptions for at least 200 flights and at least 100,000 passengers were stranded after a Xiamen Airlines carrier veered off the runway last Aug. 16.

Source: Phil. Star

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