By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will open for bidding phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project in November, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol announced early Friday.
The newly appointed MinDA Secretary made the announcement after his meeting with Transportation Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje on Thursday to discuss the progress of the delayed railway project, which will cover 102 kilometers connecting the cities of Tagum, Davao City, and Digos (TDD line).
The line would have eight stations, namely: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang in Bunawan, Davao City; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos.
The government had set aside P6 billion from the 2018 General Appropriations Act for the road right of way acquisition for the areas located along the railway path.
He said the government was expecting the groundbreaking for the project to take place early next year.
Piñol added a group of Chinese engineering consultants was already preparing the groundwork for the succeeding phases of the railway project.
He asked them to “consider the coastal areas of Surigao down to Davao Occidental and Sultan Kudarat province in the railway project” as the provinces have the potential to become a major food production and tourism hubs once connected to the railway system.
Piñol said his agency will provide the consultants “a commodity map of Mindanao to help them identify key production areas in the island.”
Last July 10, 2019, the National Economic and Development Authority-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.
The DOTr, which expected to complete the project 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.