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DOTr seeks to start massive Mindanao railway plan in early ’20

/ 04:38 AM December 07, 2019

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) wants to break ground on the first phase of the massive Mindanao Railway Project—among the big-ticket infrastructure deals to be financed mainly by the Chinese government—by early 2020.

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board earlier gave its approval for the P81.7-billion project, which involved a 100-kilometer train line between Tagum, Davao and Digos.

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“This builds on the dream of President Duterte to generate development in Mindanao through an efficient rail system that will not only move people throughout the island of Mindanao, but will also generate needed economic growth,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement on Friday.

According to the DOTr, the first phase will have eight stations: Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao, Toril, Sta. Cruz and Digos.

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Phase 1 of the Mindanao Railway Project is designed to accommodate about 130,000 passengers a day in its first year of full operations.

Once fully operational, it will cut travel time between Tagum City to Digos City from more than three hours to about one hour and 20 minutes.

Partial operations are targeted by the second quarter of 2022 for the Tagum-Davao line, while full operations for the Tagum-Davao-Digos line will be in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The DOTr said phase one would involve a 74-km at-grade section and a 26-km elevated commuter railway line. It is part of the planned 830-km Mindanao Railway Loop, which would connect key portions of Mindanao and would likely be financed with a loan from China.

Eymard Eje, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Projects, said they were first working on the so-called project contract agreement before singing the official development assistance loan deal.

“It would be the DOF [Department of Finance] who would obtain the loan,” he said.

He said the DOTr was waiting for a list of three bidders from China for two bid packages. These are for the project monitoring consultancy and the design and build contractor.

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“Once the Chinese government submits the list, we will immediately proceed with the bidding process provided by law,” Eje said.

The Philippines is also hoping to tap Chinese loans for a 581-km railway line from Metro Manila to Bicol province.

The train line, formally known as the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long-Haul Project, will cost about P175 billion, making it one of the largest under the administration’s “Build Build Build” infrastructure program.

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