Metro Manila subway operations ‘can begin’ even before entire line done

Rambo Talabong
Metro Manila subway operations ‘can begin’ even before entire line done
The Department of Transportation says the planned subway in Metro Manila can begin operations in 2022, as soon as there are two stations built

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on Friday, June 16, that it wants the operations of the Mega Manila Subway Project to begin in 2022, two years before the entire railway line’s promised completion.

How will the DOTr do this? Through partial operations. (READ: Duterte admin revives plan to build Metro Manila subway)

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade gave the order during the 7th Steering Council committee meeting held last week, where the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a partner for the project, presented its feasibility report.

“I don’t want bola-bola (delaying tactics). I want this project finished,” Tugade said in a statement.

DOTr communications chief Goddess Libiran also told Rappler that as soon as two stations are built, the subway will be opened.

“Hindi naman kasi kailangang tapusin lahat ng istasyon bago paandarin. Ang directive ni Secretary Art, bawat station na matapos, magamit na kaagad,” Libiran said in a text message.

(We don’t need to build all the stations before trains run. The directive of Secretary Tugade is that each station that gets finished should be used immediately.)

The DOTr has yet to announce which stations will be built first.

One more station

Aside from an early opening, Tugade also asked JICA to expand the initial plan to add a station at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the country’s main gateway.

Tugade explained that the station will accommodate the projected increase in arriving passengers at NAIA.

The current blueprint includes 13 stations, spanning Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to FTI in Taguig City.

Tugade also proposed a training facility for railway operators, to which JICA responded by promising that the subway will be manned by well-trained construction workers, operators, and maintenance personnel.

Apart from a “world-class design,” the proposed subway system will have water-stop panels, doors, and high-level entrance for flood prevention; earthquake detection; and a train stop system.

Also present in the meeting were Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Bases Conversion and Development Authority President Vince Dizon, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Danilo Lim, representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority, and officials of the Japan embassy.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to sign the loan agreement for the project during the latter’s visit to the Philippines in November. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.