|Image Source: Clark International Airport|
According to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, his department intends to finalize a plan within 90 days to construct a new train that will connect passengers from Manila to Clark International Airport. The Philippine government is eyeing for Clark to take shape as a domestic hub and President Duterte has already asked the country's major airlines to transfer smaller turbo-prop aircraft to Clark. However, the plan can only be made viable with the necessary connectivity.
The Department of Transportation is currently evaluating two options including a standard train or connector road. "Clark will be reachable either by road or by train," said Tugade. "By road, we have to recognize Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 and the Connector Road because that will bring you somewhere in Bulacan, so it gives connectivity."
Skyway 3 is an elevated expressway that travels from Buendia in Makati to Balinawak in Quezon City. It will be linked to the Circumferential Road 3 in Caloocan City by the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway Connector Road.
If the new transportation link is to be by train, it will utilize the alignment belonging to Philippine National Railways or NLEX. Tugade said that the rail project is currently under study by the National Economic and Development Authority. It will be formalized by the department within 90 days.
President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping that a new transportation link to Clark International Airport and the transfer of domestic turbo-prop flights from NAIA will help to address the congestion issues at the country's primary international gateway, while new mass transportation projects are being finalized.
Duterte floated the idea to his cabinet as a "native idea" that might solve some of the problems, while the larger transportation projects are worked out including a brand new replacement for Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
"If we can have a road until we can have the new whatever, then just transfer flights to Pampanga so they don't clog airports here," stated Duterte. "The best in the meantime is one road network that will be geared towards Pampanga and Clark so we can use it."
Duterte previously encouraged the idea of building a fast train between Metro Manila and Clark to facilitate growth at the Pampanga Airport and to reduce congestion at NAIA. "You have to have a fast train with two points of entry somewhere in Metro Manila that is not too crowded," said Duterte.
Meanwhile, Duterte is studying previous proposals to construct a new airport at Sangley Point in Cavite. However, he remains uncertain if the Philippine government has the necessary funds to undertake such a large infrastructure project.
"I really do not know if we have enough money to build a new airport in Sangley," said Duterte. "If there is money, okay, we don't have a problem there." But while Duterte remained unsure of the permanent solution to address the congestion issues at NAIA, he reaffirmed his government's commitment to fix it. "We have to remedy the overcrowded skies of NAIA," said Duterte.
Last year, the Japan International Cooperation Agency identified Sangley Point as an ideal area for an airport that can easily accommodate the number of passengers that presently use the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.