THE Transportation department said Thursday that tunneling work on the first phase of the Metro Manila subway project is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2021.
“It is safe to say second half of 2021,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran told BusinessWorld by phone when asked for an update.
She said the first tunnel boring machine is expected to arrive from Japan in January.
The department received early this year parts of the boring machine that will be used to build Metro Manila’s first subway line.
The second tunnel boring machine will arrive in February, “then third to sixth will come in the succeeding months,” Ms. Libiran added.
The department will virtually present to the media on Friday the 6.99-meter tunnel boring machine, which is currently in Tokyo.
The department is still reviewing the bid of the joint venture of Sumitomo Corp. and Japan Transport Engineering Co. for the rolling stock contract of the first phase of the subway project.
The contractor is to design, execute and complete 30 train sets consisting of eight electric multiple units or a total of 240 train cars, according to the department’s bid bulletin.
The department invited Japanese firms in December to bid to supply train sets, as well as electrical and mechanical (E&M) systems and rail track works for the first phase of the subway, a flagship project funded by Japan official development assistance.
The deadline for submission of bids for E&M and track works was initially set on March 24, with a bid security of 800 million yen. This was postponed to Sept. 30, according to a bid bulletin.
The Metro Manila Subway will have 17 stations: East Valenzuela, Quirino Highway, Tandang Sora, North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, East Avenue, Anonas, Katipunan, Ortigas, Shaw, Kalayaan Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Lawton, Senate, FTI, NAIA Terminal 3, and Bicutan.
The first phase covers the first three underground stations, tunnels and depot construction, depot equipment and buildings.
The government broke ground on the first three stations in February 2019 after the Transportation department signed a P51-billion deal with the Shimizu joint venture, which consists of Shimizu Corp., Fujita Corp., Takenaka Civil Engineering Co. Ltd., and EEI Corp.
The Philippines and Japan signed in March 2018 the first tranche of the P355.6-billion loan for the project.
While the public will have to wait until 2025 for full operations of the 17-station subway, the government is planning to launch partial operations, covering the first three stations by 2022. — Arjay L. Balinbin