By Emmie V. Abadilla
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board recently approved the first phase of the P81.686- billion Mindanao Railway Project (MRP-TDD) which will link three major cities – Tagum, Davao and Digos, (TDD), bringing the initiative “closer to realization”, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade yesterday announced.
“This will 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,” he added as he thanked the NEDA Board.
In its meeting last Friday, November 29, 2019, the Board confirmed the earlier approvals given by the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee – Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) for the TDD segment.
The MRP-TDD is the first phase of the proposed 830-kilometer MRP Loop. It aims to establish a 74-km at-grade and 26-km elevated (viaduct) commuter railway from Tagum City in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur.
Phase 1 will be funded via a Chinese Official Development Assistance. Hence, the project contract agreement needs to come first, unlike Japanese ODA, where the loan agreement comes first. The Department of Finance (DOF) will obtain the loan, according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Projects Eymard Eje.
At present, the DOTr is waiting for the short list of Chinese bidders for the two project packages – the Project Monitoring Consultancy and the Design and Build Contractor. As soon as the Chinese government submits the list, the DOTr will immediately proceed with the bidding procedures.
The TDD will have eight stations located in Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao, Toril, Sta. Cruz, and Digos.
This segment is designed to accommodate around 130,000 passengers per day in its first year of full operations. Once fully operational, travel time between Tagum City to Digos City will be reduced from currently 3.5 hours to just 1.3 hours.
The TDD will break ground in the first quarter of 2020. It will be partially operational 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 rail line will be built with a single track, with provisions for future tracks and electrification.
It will have six 5-passenger trains (Diesel Multiple Units) with 3 spare cars, 4 locomotives and 15 freight cars.
Once the project is completed, the DOTr expects the daily ridership of the TDD segment to increase to 134,060 by 2022, going up further to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042.
“As the first railway to be built outside of Luzon, the MRP will transform the socio-economic landscape of Mindanao,” remarked Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary and Government Infrastructure Cluster head Mark Villar.
“This project will surely benefit those who call Mindanao their home, and also those doing business in the island,” he concluded.