DOTr opens bidding for Panay Rail study

Photo by Lindsay Bridge via flickr

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has opened a P78-million bid for another one-year feasibility study on the revival of Panay Railways, aimed at assessing its economic and structural viability.

The DOTr posted the Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) and the Philippine Bidding Documents (PBD) for consulting services on May 10 on their website and the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).

The contract will span 365 days from the Notice to Proceed, with an approved budget of P78.603 million.

The PBD requirements include a PhilGEPS certification and a statement of all the bidders’ ongoing, completed, and awarded government and private development projects.

According to the terms of reference (TOR), the feasibility study aims to update the last study conducted in 2009.

The goal is to connect urban areas, production zones, and tourist spots in Western Visayas via a passenger and freight railway system through Iloilo and Roxas cities.

The study will consider technical, operational, environmental, social, economic, financial, and funding aspects of the service.

“This project will improve the overall connectivity of the Western Visayas while ensuring future demand is met, considering land use studies and forecasts,” the TOR added.

The consulting services will consist of three main tasks: transport model, alignment optioneering, and preferred alignment activities. The transport model task includes various economic and engineering surveys such as:

– Household Interview Survey

– Screenline classified vehicle volume counts

– Passenger Occupancy Survey

– Travel Time and Vehicle Speeds

– Special generator surveys

– Stated Preference Survey

– Origin-destination interviews for passengers

– Willingness to Pay and Value of Time surveys

– Surveys for Freight and Truck Driver Interviews

– Inventory of multi-modal terminals, ports, airports, container yards, and economic zones

– Sea routes inventory, including schedules, capacity, and waiting times

The alignment optioneering task will identify three viable full alignments considering economic, infrastructural, and technological factors. The preferred alignment activities will further the conceptual design of the chosen option from the three reported.

The deadline for bid submissions was May 20. Bids were restricted to Filipino citizens or entities with at least 60 percent Filipino ownership.

Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) No. 2024-001 issued on May 16 stated that bid opening will be on May 31 at the DOTr’s Centralized Bids and Awards Committee conference room in Mandaluyong City, live-streamed via Google Meet. Eligibility documents will be opened in the presence of bidders’ representatives.

Bidding will follow open competitive procedures using a non-discretionary “pass or fail” criterion as specified in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act).

Only three bidders will be shortlisted based on criteria including the qualification of key personnel (70 percent) and the firm’s applicable experience and job capacity (15 percent each).

This is the second bid announcement by the DOTr after the first one in January 2023, which also spanned one year with a budget of P49.99 million. Components of the study include traffic demand study, ridership forecast, route planning, technology suitability, environmental and social impact assessments, engineering preparations, and financial and economic analysis.

According to Panay Railways Inc. chief Cesar Capellan, while six contractors were shortlisted for last year’s consultancy bid, they were disqualified. Eleven entities have expressed interest in the current bid, but none have formally submitted their feasibility studies and funding capabilities.

China Railways International Group, which signed a memorandum of understanding with Panay Railways Inc. in 2017, has shown interest in reviving the deal despite its expiration in 2019.

Interest in the Panay Railways revival has surged since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. discussed it during his first State of the Nation Address in 2022.

President Marcos signed Administrative Order No. 19 on March 25, creating the Inter-Agency Committee for Right-Of-Way Activities for National Railway Projects, headed by the DOTr, to streamline land acquisition processes for railway projects.

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