PHILIPPINES: Universal LRT Corp signed a concession agreement on June 18 to build and operate the MRT-7 line to link the existing elevated metro network in Manila with San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.

The US$1·23bn project has been approved by the Department of Transport & Communications some seven years after first being proposed. The elevated line will begin at an interchange with Metrostar Express Line 3 at North Avenue in Quezon City. It will then run northwest along Commonwealth Avenue for 23 km to a bus interchange at San Jose del Monte, serving 14 stations.

It is expected to be financed partly through international loans (75%), with the remainder coming from ULC's shareholders. Development of real estate along the corridor is also a requirement of the concession. ULC hopes to begin revenue operations by 2012.

DOTC has also agreed a US$81m contract with DMCI Holdings and First Balfour for the completion of the elevated light rail loop in central Manila, which will involve extending Line 3 from North Avenue around to join Line 1 at Monumento. Four additional stations will be built along the 5·2 km line, which is expected to open in May 2010.