WORK IS expected to start this month on upgrading of a 60?km section of Philippine National Railways’ Main Line South, permitting the expansion of suburban services to the south of Manila.PNR General Manager Jose Maria Sarasola announced on May 2 that track strengthening, bridge reconstruction, station works and the installation of new signalling and communications systems between Manila and Calamba is due to be completed by early 2009. Total cost of the work is put at US$314m, which is largely being funded by loans from China.PNR is already working with the National Housing Authority to clear squatters from the route, and has started work on the US$50m first phase covering the section of line between Caloocan in Manila and Alabang. A contract for the Stage II works between Alabang and Calamba was awarded to China National Technical Import & Export Corp at the end of April.According to Sarasola, the completion of Phase I will allow trains from Calamba to be extended through Manila to connect with Northrail services running north from the capital.n