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Transportation

Japan's Sumitomo buys 20% stake in Philippine railway for $60m

Trading house aims to ease Manila traffic jams, with more lines expected

A train on Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 1. Sumitomo hopes to improve the safety and convenience of the line, also known as LRT-1. (Photo courtesy of Sumitomo)

TOKYO -- Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. has taken a 19.2% interest in a Philippine rail operator for 6.3 billion yen ($58.5 million), drawn by the prospect of new construction to relieve congestion in the Southeast Asian nation's capital.

Sumitomo said Friday it had invested in Light Rail Manila, which operates and maintains a 20 km line connecting the cities of Quezon and Pasay in Metro Manila.

This marks Sumitomo's first investment in passenger rail in Southeast Asia, according to the company. Sumitomo will draw on know-how from past projects, which include railroad construction and rolling stock exports, mostly in Southeast Asia and the U.S.

The population of Metro Manila is projected to reach 18 million by 2035, rising about 30% from the current level as more people move into the region, which drives the nation's economy growth.

Plans in the capital call for building rail lines funded by loans from the Asian Development Bank and others to ease chronic traffic jams.

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