WITH TRAFFIC congestion in Manila worsening, on July 18 Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Transportation & Communications to give priority to the construction of new LRT routes and increasing capacity on the existing network. Consultants are to be appointed this month to assist with a 10·5m pesos upgrading of Line 1, which would raise capacity to 40000 passengers/h per direction through acquisition of 12 four-car LRVs and the rebuilding of existing cars. A magnetic-strip ticketing system is to enter service in September.

With a draft agreement now being scrutinised by the National Economic Development Authority, the Light Rail Transit Authority hopes to achieve financial close for the 27 km extension of Line 1 from Baclaran to Dasmarinas in December. This is to be built by LRTA and SNC Lavalin at a cost of US$597m.

The US$250m second phase of Line 3 from North Avenue to Monumento may go out to tender. However, Metro Rail Transit Corp Chairman Robert John Sobrepeña has warned that this is in conflict with MRTC’s concession agreement, which is being renegotiated as the government seeks to reduce its financial commitment. Similarly, the 22·6 km Line 4 proposed by a consortium of Systra, Bouygues and Sofretu may be put out to tender, as cost estimates have climbed from US$680m to US$1bn.