MANILA - The excavation of the tunnels for the Metro Manila Subway project will begin on December 12, the Department of Transportation said on Thursday.
Undersecretary for Rails Sector Cesar Chavez said the excavation will start in Brgy Ugong, East Valenzuela, which will also serve as the railways’ depot.
“One of the discussions in Tokyo, yung actual excavation is on December 12. Actually, ito na yung totoo… Totoo yung pag excavate.”
(The actual excavation in on Dec. 12. Actually, this is for real. The excavation is real.)
Chavez recently went to Tokyo, Japan, to check the 4th of the 25 tunnel-boring machines purchased by the government.
DOTr officials under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte originally targeted to open the first three stations in Valenzuela, Tandang Sora, and North Avenue in May this year.
From Valenzuela station, the excavation will run for a kilometer and a half to reach the next station - the Quirino Highway station in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Japanese engineers working on the subway said it would take up to twelve months to complete the excavation from Valenzuela to Quirino Highway. They explained that there are concrete panels, electrical wirings, and other installations before the excavation starts.
Filipino engineers, who used to work for the subways in the Middle East, were also hired to work on the subway project. They said that the rains or floods would not hamper the subway construction because of the technology and system employed at the site.
The underground railway stretches from Valenzuela to Bicutan in Taguig City and the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City with 17 stations. Once operational, the subway is expected to cut travel time from Quezon City to NAIA to 35 minutes from the current 1 hour and 10 minutes, the DOTr said.
However, the transportation agency said it faces another challenge in the acquisition of right-of-way for the project, or negotiating with property owners that will be affected by the project.
Construction for the P488.5-billion project is financed through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Philippine government hopes the public can use the subway line by 2028.
The transportation agency has already sent 19 Filipino engineers to Japan to prepare for the operations to learn how to run a subway and other future railways projects, such as the North-South Commuter Rail.