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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Rail transportation for a greener future

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At no point in the history of mankind has the need for a more aggressive response to climate change and environmental challenges been more pressing.

Rail transportation is being heralded as the most responsible way to transport ground freight. On average, railroads are three to four times more fuel efficient than trucks on a ton-mile basis. It is thus safe to assume that with the reduced greenhouse gas emissions, rail is the way to go to save our tiny green planet, transport wise.

Indeed, the Philippines, as an archipelago, is more prone to the effects of radical climate change. In fact, we should welcome any move in huge transportation development projects that will alleviate any further negative impact on our already damaged environment. This includes the mega rail project being implemented by the Department of Transportation–the 147 kilometers North South Commuter Railway (NSCR) traversing Luzon from New Clark City in Pampanga to Calamba, Laguna.

In the realm of transportation, a reinvigorated focus on rail infrastructure is beginning to gain momentum, sparking hope for a sustainable and efficient future.

As we navigate the complexities of modern mobility, it’s imperative to question whether this newfound enthusiasm for rail development will endure, or if it will falter under the weight of bureaucratic inertia.

Recent strides in the Philippine rail sector offer glimpses of promise and potential. Initiatives once plagued by delays and setbacks are now attracting attention and fostering public optimism. The spotlight shines brightly on ambitious projects set to redefine our nation’s transportation landscape.

At the forefront of this movement is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has elevated rail development to a top priority within his administration’s agenda. With a directive to explore funding avenues for a long-awaited railway system in Mindanao and a push for the timely implementation of the NSCR project, Marcos signals a departure from past disappointments towards a future of progress.

The NSCR, in particular, emerges as a beacon of hope amid Metro Manila’s crippling traffic congestion. Beyond alleviating urban gridlock, this ambitious undertaking holds the promise of spreading prosperity to regions beyond the capital, while safeguarding our environment from further degradation.

Rail transport, heralded as a green alternative, is poised to play a pivotal role in decarbonizing our nation’s transit networks. By offering energy-efficient mobility solutions and curbing greenhouse gas emissions, railways present a pathway towards sustainable development.

The support of international organizations like the Asian Development Bank underscores the significance of these initiatives. Their commitment to funding projects like the NSCR reflects a shared vision of inclusive growth and environmental stewardship.

As contracts are awarded to reputable companies renowned for their eco-friendly solutions, the wheels are set in motion for tangible progress. Yet, challenges loom on the horizon, from the resettlement of informal settlers along railway corridors to the complexities of project implementation.

In the face of these obstacles, the resolve of government agencies and the cooperation of affected communities are essential to ensuring the timely realization of our aspirations. The NSCR stands as a testament to our collective ambition―a symbol of progress hurtling towards a greener, more sustainable future.

As we embark on this journey, let us remain vigilant, mindful of the hurdles that lie ahead. The track is laid, the momentum is building―may we stay steadfast in our commitment to seeing this vision through to fruition.

Editor’s Notes: Ms. Wella Mayor is a distinguished advocacy communicator with a profound focus on agriculture, environment and telecommunications. With a robust background serving in both governmental and private sectors, she has honed her expertise as a consultant for local and multinational corporations, as well as non-governmental organizations. Through her work, she has contributed significantly in raising awareness about pressing environmental challenges and promoting solutions for their mitigation and adaptation.

Manila Standard’s Biodiversity 101 column is open to contributors who share the advocacies of protecting the environment and promoting sustainable practices that are being pushed by the United Nations. Such contributions are subject to the availability of space and the paper’s editorial policies. The contributions should not exceed 600 words or 4,000 characters.

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