MinDA hopeful MindaRail project can be pushed through under Duterte’s term

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 Aug) – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) remains hopeful that the construction of phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project can still be pushed through in the remaining 2 years and 10 months of the term of the first Mindanawon President, Rodrigo R. Duterte.

MinDA Assistant SecretaryRomeo Montenegr. MindaNews file photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

In an interview, MinDA assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro told reporters on Wednesday that efforts must be pursued to get the construction started for the 102-kilometer first phase of the railway project that will run from Tagum City to Digos City, passing through Davao City (TDD line).

He believed Mindanao’s first railway project would be realized under the Duterte administration as the government had already allocated a budget worth P6 billion for the acquisition of the road right of way (RROW) from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2018.

He said the Department of Transportation is still completing the work on the RROW acquisition for the TDD line, which would have eight stations, namely: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang in Bunawan, Davao City; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos.

Montenegro added the project implementation ­– involving activities such as RROW acquisition, clearing of the railway path, laying of the rail tracks, procurement of the coaches, and actual test commissioning of the TDD line – will take time because “it’s not as easy as any other construction activities” that can be done immediately.

Last July 10, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved the increase in the project’s estimated cost from P35.9 billion to P82.9 billion.

In its press release, the DOTr, which expected to complete the undertaking by 2022, projected that the daily ridership of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment to increase to 134,060 once it becomes operational. The DOTr projects the daily ridership to further increase to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042.

The increase was intended to cover the cost for the changes in the project scope included changing from a single track to dual track railway; from diesel to electrified railway with 25 kV electrified overhead for the catenary system transmission of electrical energy to the trains wherein the wires are situated above the rails and 26 electrical multiple units; from 102-km. fully at-grade railway to 100 km railway with viaduct for the 26-km. elevated portion; and addition of the satellite depot in Davao City aside from the main depot to be located in Tagum City.

According to DOTr, the railway’s first segment will reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once it starts operating in 2022. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)