First stretch of Metro Manila subway may open in December 2021

07, Sep. 2020

A tunnel boring machine manufactured by JIM Technology Corp which is involved as a supplier to the Metro Manila subway project. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Department of Transportation)
A tunnel boring machine manufactured by JIM Technology Corp which is involved as a supplier to the Metro Manila subway project. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Department of Transportation)

MANILA, NNA – The Philippines wants to speed up the construction of the country's first subway line so that it could start opening the first stretch of three stations to commuters in December 2021.

While the first stage of the Metro Manila Subway was originally targeted for opening in February 2022, transportation secretary Arthur Tugade has pushed for an earlier launch so that it could be presented as a Christmas gift to Filipinos.

The stretch of the Metro Manila subway to operate first will cover three stations starting from Valenzuela city. They are Quirino Highway - Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora and North Avenue stations.

In a media briefing, Tugade said the subway line will start from Valenzuela because the depot, the first station as well as the Philippine Railway Institute will be located in the city.

To overcome restrictions in social distancing as required to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the government has hired more construction workers and expanded their barracks, said transportation undersecretary Timothy Batan.

The determination to fast track the project came as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) virtually accepted the first two tunnel boring machines last week.

Six of these gigantic machines will be used for the first section of the subway line, which the government hopes will ease traffic congestion that has plagued the highly populated sprawling capital for many years.

Worth 400 million pesos to 500 million pesos ($10.3 million) each, these powerful machines are being manufactured by Japan’s JIM Technology Corp. in Yokohama.

The first machine will arrive in the Philippines in January, followed by the second one the next month.

In all, 25 excavation machines will be deployed to create the 34-kilometer long tunnel with 17 stations. The entire line will be fully operational by 2025, according to Tugade.

Costing 350 billion pesos ($7.2 billion), the subway project is significantly funded by loans from Japan. It is one of the major projects of the country’s flagship infrastructure enhancement program called 'Build, Build, Build'.

A joint venture by Shimizu Corp., Fujita Corp.,Takenaka Civil Engineering Co. and Philippine construction giant EEI Corp. won the design and build contract for the first phase of the subway development.

They are also responsible for the construction of the subway depot in Valenzuela City as well as the buildings for the Philippine Railway Institute (PRI), the country's first railway training center.

Designed with Japanese expertise, the modern underground rail will serve 370,000 passengers daily in its first year of full operations. But it will have a capacity to transport up to 1.5 million commuters each day.

Groundbreaking for the subway project was held in February 2019.