MM subway, 12 railways operational by 2022

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    Tunnel boring machine head. (Photo from PNA)

    The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is on track to start partial operations of the Metro Manila subway project (MMSP) and 12 other railway projects before the end of the administration next year.

    “To catch-up in the mass transport infrastructure backlog, the Metro Manila subway project, along with our 12 other railway projects throughout the country, are being implemented at record scale and at record speed,” Timothy John Batan, DOTr undersecretary for rail, said in his speech at the arrival ceremony for the tunnel boring machine (TBM) cutter head of the MMSP held at the Manila North Centre Port Terminal last Friday.

    The MMSP is the first underground railway system in the country that will provide the most modern mass transportation in the National Capital Region, from Valenzuela City to Bicutan, Parañaque and Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay. The target is to start partial operations by yearend.

    DOTr is also completing projects such as the extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line 1 from Metro Manila to Cavite; Philippine National Railways Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos); Common Station; and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line 7 from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. These are targeted to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2021.

    The LRT-2 East extension from Santolan to Masinag will be finished this April, while the MRT-3’s rehabilitation is slated for completion in July 2021.

    According to Batan, these projects will increase the country’s railways asset base that started in 2016 from 77 to 1,200 kilometers in route length, from 61 to 168 stations, and from 224 to 1,381 train cars – all investments approved, projects financed, construction ongoing and at least partially operable by 2022.

    Through these, the DOTr is putting in place mass public transportation as the principal means for mobility to reduce dependence on private vehicles, with the objective of reducing exhaust emissions as 70 percent of air pollution is from vehicle emissions.

    Meanwhile, to accelerate construction of the MMSP and minimize road interference during construction, Batan said a fleet of 25 Japanese-made TBMs will be used.

    The unveiled cutter head will be attached to “Kaunlaran,” the first of six TBMs intended for use in the partial operability section of the subway.

    The cutter head is the largest and heaviest part of the TBM, weighing 74 tons. Its main purpose is to break, cut and grind rocks and soil by rotating its 36-piece disc cutter, composed of 15 pieces of single and 21 pieces of twin roller cutter.

    The arrival of the first TBM cutter head signals the continuous arrival of the other TBM equipment and materials. This month, the remaining parts of the machine will arrive and will be transported at the site for assembly.

    The subway project began construction works in February 2019, with the full operation of the 34 km. subway and its 17 stations set by 2025, Batan said.