The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) from Japan to be used for the big construction in the Contract Package 104 (CP104) of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) along Ortigas and Shaw Boulevard Stations. (DOTr)

Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista has urged the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to fast-track the completion of major railway projects such as the Metro Manila Subway Project and the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) System.

“Let us move beyond table-top discussions. Let us cascade the inertia of transformation to the frontlines of these projects,” Bautista said.

Bautista said that concepts and ideas raised at the meeting should be brought to the frontlines of rail projects such as depots, stations, and rail lines during Wednesday’s bilateral meeting between the DOTr, JICA, and the Japanese Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

Aside from Bautista, the Japanese Embassy to the Philippines’ Economic Minister Nihei Daisuke, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative to the Philippines Takema Sakamoto, and Japan National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies Dr. Morichi Shigeru were present in the bilateral talks.

Bautista said that the Philippines’ 30-year railway master plan being crafted “must serve as a springboard” for discussions towards sustainable operations of the Metro Manila Subway, NSCR, MRT-3, and other upcoming rail systems.

“The challenge is to extract from today’s discussions how best to bridge the gap between our vision of an ideal rail industry and the current status of our rail system operations,” Bautista said.

Bautista expressed that the assistance of the Japanese government’s cutting-edge technology would keep the Philippines’ railway lines modern and on par with other countries’ rail lines.

Bautista said that to achieve the renaissance of the Philippine railway sector, the government must partner with the private sector to maintain its sustainable operations.

“We must focus on sustainable operations, which requires the collaboration of government and private operators,” Bautista said.