Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (left) and China Railway Design Corporation and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co., Ltd. Consortium (CRDC) Representative Weidong Guo present the signed project management consultancy contract for the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the Mindanao Railway Project. (photo from Arthur Tugade’s Facebook Page)

The Department of Transportation and China Railway Design Corp. signed on Wednesday the P3 billion project management consultant contract for the P82 billion Mindanao Railway Phase 1.

The China-funded project will be the country’s first train system outside Luzon.

The first phase covers the first 100-kilometers of the proposed 1,500-km Mindanao Railway project. It will have eight stations and will connect Davao City with the cities of Tagum and Panabo in Davao del Norte and Digos in Davao del Sur. A DOTr video presentation indicated that the project will have a design speed of 120 kilometers per hour and can accommodate up to 122,000 passengers per day once it opens by 2022.  It will reduce travel time from three hours to one hour from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur. The heavy maintenance depot will be in Tagum while the smaller facility will be located in Davao.

Partial operation of the Tagum to Carmen segment is expected by March 2022, with full operation targeted by June 2023.

“It is just the small start to our commitment to bear into reality the so-called Mindanao Express,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said during the signing ceremony on Wednesday

The contract was awarded to the China Railway Design Corp. and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co. Ltd. Consortium.

The Mindanao Railway Phase 1 will be financed through an official development assistance (ODA) from China.

China is the third-largest source of ODA loans for railway projects in the Philippines after Japan and the Asian Development Bank, according to the National Economic and Development Authority. – Rommel F. Lopez