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Tunneling works for Metro Manila Subway project set for Q1 2022

The tunneling or drilling activities for the Metro Manila subway project, the country’s first subway system, are set to begin in the first quarter of 2021, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Wednesday.

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan told the House Committee on Appropriations that the two of the 25 tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) that will be used for the subway project have already arrived in the country and are currently at an excavation site on Tandang Sora Avenue in Quezon City.

“Inaasahan po natin na mauumpisahan ang pagbaba ng TBMs nitong dulo ng 2021 to early 2022,” Batan said during the House panel’s hearing on the DOTr’s proposed P150.76-billion budget for 2022.

(We expect that we can start laying down the TBMs by the end of 2021 to early 2022.)

Sought for clarification, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran said that “per Usec. TJ [Batan], lowering and assembly is two to three months, starting in December.”

“Drilling to start in Q1 2021,” Libiran said in a text message.

In February, the DOTr unveiled the cutter heads of the TBMs to be used for the subway project. 

The Metro Manila Subway project (MMSP) will utilize a fleet of Japan-made TBMs.

The MMSP will be the first underground railway system in the country, providing modern mass transportation in the National Capital Region (NCR), from Valenzuela City to Bicutan, Parañaque, and NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay, and will further stretch across the North and South zones of the Greater Capital Region.

In 2018, Philippine officials signed a ¥104.530-billion (around P51 billion) loan deal with the Japan International Cooperation Committee (JICA) to finance the first phase of the subway project.

“Sa kasalukuyan ay nai-award na natin at ongoing na ang construction ng tinatawag nating partial operability section o ‘yung unang seven kilometers o unang apat na istasyon. Maging ang contract para sa 240 na mga bagon ay nai-award na natin,” Batan said.

(We have already awarded the contracts and the construction is ongoing for the partial operability section or the first seven kilometers or first four stations. Also, the contract for the 240 train cars has already been awarded.)

The partial operability of the subway comprises the first stations in Quezon City and in Valenzuela City, where the line's depot is also located.

These are stations in East Valenzuela, Quirino Highway, Tandang Sora Avenue, and North Avenue.

The partial operability section is expected to be operational late next year while the entire stretch of the subway is targeted to be finished by 2026. — BM, GMA News