Co-ops emerging as key players for electric-powered Mindanao Railway System

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DAVAO CITY — The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is ready to take on the lead role for coordinating power supply for the planned Mindanao Railway System (MRS), which will have electric trains.

MinDA Assistant Secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, in an interview with the media last week, said a mechanism needs to be put in place involving the National Transmission Corp., electric cooperatives, and private distribution companies.

“The question is how many municipalities will the train traverse, how many electric co-ops, from whom will the electricity be sourced? That particular issue alone is something that cannot be resolved by itself or by a team of construction people. It will go beyond that, and that is why MinDA comes in to make sure all these broader issues are addressed at the top level,” he said.

ON SCHEDULE
Meanwhile, Mr. Montenegro said the 102-kilometer MRS phase 1 spanning the cities of Tagum, Davao, and Digos remains on schedule despite the necessary revisions for the two-track, electric train system.

The two-track electric system was contained in the original proposal, but the government initially approved a one-track system with diesel trains. In June, however, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) agreed to revert to the original proposal.

Mr. Montenegro said the DoTr and the National Economic and Development Authority are set to address soon the budget requirement for the revision.

“The original endorsement submitted by the region to the national government is a two-track electrified railway system with a budget of P85 billion,” Mr. Montenegro said.

A P36-billion budget was approved for phase 1’s one-track system, with P9 billion already allocated in this year’s national budget.

“Whether it is a one or two-track locomotive, it will still have to pass through the initial stages of detailed engineering and ROW (right-of-way) negotiations, so the project is on track and the timeline still the same,” Mr. Montenegro said.

MRS construction is scheduled to start late this year.

“The major challenge in starting the project now is in negotiating the road right-of-way as it will traverse privately-owned areas,” he said.

Mr. Montenegro said the DoTr is conducting on-site and drone inspections of the areas that will be traversed by the project. — Carmencita A. Carillo and Maya M. Padillo

Mindanao rail system