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Wednesday, August 23, 2017 26° Cloudy

P6.58 B earmarked for Mindanao Railway


By  Elson Quismorio

 Some P6.58 billion has been set aside as initial fund for the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP), Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel revealed yesterday.

Pimentel, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the amount is among the items in the Rail Infrastructure Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in the proposed P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget.

Train and rail (Pixabay image) Manila Bulletin

Train and rail (Pixabay image) Manila Bulletin

He described the MRP as “an enormous project that will require a lot of incremental funding and take several years to complete by phases.”

“What is important is that the project is finally taking off, and not just being kicked around anymore,” said Pimentel, who is also a member of the Transportation Committee.

He said the P6.58 billion will jump-start Phase 1 of the MRP – the 105-kilometer line linking the provincial capital of Davao del Norte, Tagum City, via independent Davao City, to the provincial capital of Davao del Sur, Digos City.

Pimentel said the railway will eventually be extended and run through the cities of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iligan, Surigao and Zamboanga.

All told, he said the MRP will cover around 2,000 kilometers, and may well cost up to P120 billion to build, with Phase 1 alone costing P36 billion.

“There’s no question the railway will ease considerably the transfer of people and goods, and propel in a big way Mindanao’s overall social and economic development,” Pimentel said.

The Mindanao lawmaker said he is also counting on the MRP to spur thousands of construction-related and support jobs that are bound to benefit low-income families. Phase 1 of the railway is expected to cut travel time between Tagum and Digos from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours, once the trains start operating in 2022, according to the DOTr.

It will have eight stations: Tagum, Carmen, Panabo, Mudiang, Davao Terminal, Toril, Santa Cruz and Digos. A 10-hectare depot will be put up in Tagum.

Some 120,000 passengers are anticipated to hop on the train every day in its first year of operation.

The railway will have a single track at the start, but will have provisions for additional tracks plus electrification.

Six five-car passenger trains will be deployed every hour. The trains will also have 15 freight cars and three spare cars.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara commended President Duterte for giving the “green light” and approving the P35.26-billion Phase 1 MRP.

Angara said this would definitely be a “dream come true” for Mindanaoans who long dreamt of a transport system that would allow the island’s urban centers and growth corridors to be linked by rail.

“Rail is the locomotive that will drive Mindanao’s project. It is also a driver for peace because as communities become interconnected, economies are linked, growth spreads, and travel brings cultural exchanges,” Angara said. (With a report from Hannah L. Torregoza)

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