The ground-breaking for the Metro Manila Subway was held in February 2019. Credit: Philippine Information Agency.
The subway can accommodate 1.5 million passengers a day. Credit: Philippine Information Agency.
The Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) will cost $7bn. Credit: Philippine Information Agency.

Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) involves the construction of a 36km-long subway in Metro Manila, Philippines. It will be the first mass underground transport system in the Philippines.

The subway will connect North Caloocan in Bulacan and Dasmariñas in Cavite through the National Capital Region.

It has a design capacity to accommodate 1.5 million passengers a day and is expected to serve 370,000 passengers a day in the first year of its operation.

The project was proposed by the Department of Transportation or DOTr and approved by the National Economic Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA-ICC).

Ground-breaking for the Manila subway project was held in Valenzuela City in February 2019. Partial operations will begin by 2022, while phase one is expected to be completed by 2025.

Metro Manila subway route details

The project will be implemented in two phases and will have 15 stations. The initial phase will cover the central zone in the North Capital Region between Valenzuela and Parañaque, while the second phase will cover the north and south zones.

The Katipunan route was shortlisted among three proposed routes. The line will run from Quirino Highway in Quezon City to NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay and FTI in Taguig.

Spanning across Valenzuela (the depot), Quezon, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, and a small portion of Parañaque City, the subway system has a maximum operational speed of 80km/h and will run through seven local governments and three business districts in 30 minutes.

Quirino Highway-Mindanao Avenue Station, Tandang Sora Station, and North Avenue Station will be the first three stations to begin operations under phase one.

The Manila subway will be connected to major rail lines of PNR Clark, PNR Calamba, and the Common Station for better connectivity.

It will also have a spur line extending up to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to offer better connectivity for the passengers.

Philippines Metro Manila subway infrastructure

Metro Manila subway stations will be built using the cut-and-cover method, while the non-cut-and-cover tunnelling method will be employed for the excavation between stations.

“Each subway station will feature a 210m-long platform and an intermodal facility to facilitate transfers to and from road-based transport system.”

The Double Tube Single Track (DTST) tunnel structure was preferred for the subway, based on the expenditure, construction period, platform width, and ventilation requirements.

The project has been granted Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) and is expected to benefit from Japanese technologies and equipment. A Japanese tunnel boring machine with a diameter of 6.9m and weight of more than 600t will be utilised for the construction of the subway.

Metro Manila Subway will feature disaster-resilient strategies to tackle the regular occurrence of typhoons and earthquakes. Water-stop panels, doors, and high-level entrance for flood prevention, earthquake detection, and a train stop system will be installed.

Each subway station will feature a 210m-long platform and an intermodal facility to facilitate transfers to and from road-based transport system.

Financing for Manila subway

The project requires an investment of PhP355.6bn ($7bn), which will be financed via a JICA Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan. The loan will have an annual interest of 0.10%, payable in 40 years with a grace period of 12 years.

JICA signed an agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to provide an ODA loan of up to ¥104.53bn ($940m) for the phase one of the Manila subway, in March 2018.

Contractors involved in the subway project

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) signed a contract with a joint venture of Shimizu Corporation, Fujita Corporation, Takenaka Civil Engineering, and EEI Corporation.

The joint venture is responsible for the design and construction of three underground stations, tunnel structures, and the Valenzuela Depot, as well as infrastructure for the Philippine Railway Institute.

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