Metro Manila subway works still on track — DOTr

Despite current problems and the global crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP), which is called the "Century Project," is still alive.

This is the message transmitted by the Transportation Department (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, as the DOTr, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Japanese MMSP partners, today unveiled the first of six (6) Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) to be used to develop the country's first underground rail system.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, an on-site Virtual Tour and Factory Acceptance Test was conducted last September 04, 2020, during which transportation officials, media representatives and the public were taken through the Japanese manufacturing plant where the TBMs are being made and assembled.

Amidst the pandemic created by COVID-19, people thought that the Subway project was gone but it is a surprise to see that the Subway is not forgotten according to Secretary Tugade during his speech.

Tugade added how happy he was to see and witness the virtual acceptance of the tunnel boring machine. He also mentioned how he will become the happiest to see that the Subway will actually work and share its partial operability on the first underground railway, the Metro Manila Subway, before the end of President Duterte’s term.

DOTr's undersecretary for railways, Timothy John Batan, noted in his message that proposals for the first Metro Manila subway were conceived in a study way back in September 1973. Other neighboring Asian countries, however, were those that managed to develop the dream project, with the Philippines trailing behind.

"After almost half a century and six (6) administrations of the 1973 Japan OTCA (Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency) report, under the strong will of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, it is now the turn of the Philippines to finally create our first ever subway," Usec said. Says Batan.

Six (6) Earth Pressure Balance TBMs will be used for tunneling and linking the subway's partial operability segment (Valenzuela-North Avenue), while fourteen ( 14) TBMs will be used for the remainder of the railway project. The first two completed TBMs will be delivered in the Philippines by the end of January 2021, and will be followed in February 2021 shortly.

The gigantic TBMs are built for digging underground and laying the tunnels that will link the 17 stations of the subway. Every TBM has an outer diameter of 6.99 metres, with a total length of 95.0 meters (including back-up cars), and weights around 700 tons every.

Each TBM used in the project will excavate 300 to 600 cubic meters of soil daily and create a tunnel length of about 12 to 30 meters per day using rotating cutting wheels which can easily break hard soil and rocks. Additionally, with the sheer size and strength of the TBM, it is expected to result in faster tunneling and completion of the project, while at the same time greatly minimizing overfloor disturbances during construction.

Meanwhile, development partners such as JICA and the Japanese Embassy have also expressed their full support and confidence to the Philippine government through the DOTr's relentless efforts, under Secretary Tugade 's leadership, to deliver much-needed infrastructure projects in the region.

"What we have witnessed today shows that the realization of the Metro Manila Subway Project is already gaining momentum, and it is only a matter of time before the Filipinos can experience a high-capacity rail system close to what we have in Japan," said JICA Chief Delegate Eigo Azukizawa.

"I can distinctly remember a day last February. I was at this JIMT factory to join the site inspection of Secretary Tugade. While it was midwinter in Japan and the freezing wind froze us to the bone, though wearing his ultra-thick jacket he carefully tested the product lines. I respected his accuracy, his hands-on leadership and vision. His great passion for providing Filipinos with a more comfortable commuting experience is as evident as the midwinter season, "Koji Haneda, Japanese ambassador to the Philippines, recalled.

During the virtual tour, JIM Technology, manufacturer of the TBM, gave a live operational demonstration of the TBM's first completed and powered-up main body and its cutter head with a spinning cutter disk.

Representatives of JIM Technology Corporation and the General Contractor of the partial operability segment of the subways, Shimizu-Fujita-Takenaka-EEI Joint Venture, have also expressed their full commitment to the design and completion of the country's first underground rail system.

News courtesy from DOTR.