Construction of Mindanao railway to start Q3 of 2018

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 7 December) – The construction of the segment of the Mindanao Railway project connecting three cities will start by third quarter of 2018, Mindanao Development Authority executive deputy director Romeo Montenegro said.

In an interview Tuesday, Montenegro said the government is still completing the detailed engineering of the first segment of the project, which has been identified as a flagship project of the Duterte administration.

MinDA’s Romeo Montenegro during a press conference in Davao City on 11 January 2016. MindaNews file photo by TOTO LOZANO

He said they expect the detailed engineering of the railway system to be completed by the first semester of next year.

Once completed, he said the government will then identify the contractor of the first segment worth P35.257 billion covering 102 kilometers starting from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur via Davao City.

Montenegro added he believes the movement of the construction can be hastened because the budget has been allotted.

The first segment will comprise eight stations, namely: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang (in Bunawan, Davao City); Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum.

“We have yet to know which part of town, community or city that this will pass through. Definitely, the major challenge to hurdle in these kinds of projects, the same with roads, is right of way,” he said.

The entire 1,532-km project would cost P211.43 billion. It will connect all key cities of the island such as Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, General Santos, and Davao.

Montenegro said the government will fund the first phase of the project through the 2018 budget.

He said it is still unclear who would fund the other remaining segments of the Mindanao Rail because it would depend on whether the government will use its own budget or tap external sources.

Implementing it under a private-public partnership scheme is another option, he said.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the railway’s first segment will reduce travel time from Tagum to Digos from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once it starts operating in 2022.

It added the rail line will be built with a single track, with provisions for future tracks and electrification. It will have six five-car passenger trains with three spare cars, four locomotives and 15 freight cars.

Upon project completion, the DOTr expects the daily ridership of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment to increase to 134,060 by 2022.

The Department projected the daily ridership to further increase to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)