DoTr still seeking funding for Mindanao Rail project

THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said it has not yet obtained funding for the Mindanao Railway project.

“There is none yet, but we are working on the (new) plan,” Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

Mr. Bautista said the DoTr is currently conducting a feasibility study which will require an overhaul of the original plan.

“The original study called for the use of diesel-powered trains. So, maybe our train system should be modern and environment-friendly,” he said, adding that the new study is still being prepared.

Mr. Bautista said the DoTr has tapped consultants to conduct the new study to evaluate viable options for the Mindanao railway project.

Last year, the DoTr said it is considering official development assistance from Japan, South Korea, and India to fund three major railway projects after it dropped China as funding source.

Phase 1 of the Mindanao railway project, estimated to cost P83 billion, would run from Tagum in Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur. It is expected to accommodate 122,000 passengers per day and cut travel time between Tagum and Digos from three hours to one.

Earlier this year, the DoTr said it will continue to work on the first phase of the Mindanao Railway project despite uncertainty in funding. 

The DoTr has said it is also still studying the feasibility of phase three, which will focus on cargo lines to the various ports in the region. — Ashley Erika O. Jose