DOTr says Valenzuela to North Avenue Subway operational by December 2021

The Department of Transportation said  Metro Manila Subway Project  is still alive despite present challenges and the global crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Perhaps, because of what has happened, because of the pandemic created by COVID-19, many people might have thought that the Subway Project is gone. Today, they are in for a big surprise. Because in the quietness, in the attitude of working quietly, notwithstanding the pandemic, lo and behold! They are now surprised to see that the Subway is not forgotten,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

“Today, I tell you, I am happy to see and witness the virtual aceptance of the tunnel boring machine. I will be happier when it finally arrives in January and February of next year. And I will be happiest when it will actually operate, and we’ll have the partial operability of the first underground railway, the Metro Manila Subway, before the end of President Duterte’s term,” he  added.

The DOTr, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the MMSP Japanese partners, unveiled  last Friday the first of the six Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) to be used for the construction of the country’s first underground railway system. 


In his message, DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan noted that plans for the first subway in Metro Manila was conceived in a study way back in September 1973. However, other neighboring Asian countries were the ones who were able to build the dream project, with the Philippines trailing behind.

“After nearly half a century and six (6) administrations from the 1973 Japan OTCA (Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency) study, under the strong-willed leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, it is now the Philippines’ turn to finally build our first-ever subway,” Batan said.

Six  Earth Pressure Balance TBMs will be used to tunnel and connect the partial operability section of the subway (Valenzuela-North Avenue), while 4 TBMs are set to be used for the remaining section of the railway project. The first two completed TBMs are scheduled to be delivered in the Philippines by the end of January 2021, and will be followed shortly in February 2021.

The gigantic TBMs are designed to dig underground and lay the tunnels that will connect the subway’s 17 stations. Each TBM has an outer diameter of 6.99 meters, with a total length of 95.0 meters (including back up cars), and weigh approximately 700 tons each.

Each TBM to be used in the project can excavate 300 to 600 cubic meters of soil daily and create a tunnel of about 12 to 30 meters in length per day using rotating cutting wheels that can easily break up hard soil and rocks. 

Additionally, with the TBM’s sheer size and power, it is expected to result in a faster tunneling and project completion, while at the same time, significantly reducing disruption above ground during construction.

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