The Mindanao Railway Project is a proposed railway network on the island of Mindanao in the Southern Philippines. The railway would connect the major cities of the island via a circumferential railway, with spur lines connecting outlying cities.
Mindanao is the second-largest island in the Philippines, and it has a population of over 20 million people. Luzon is currently the only island that has an operating railway, most of which are railways serving Metro Manila.
Plans for a island-wide railway were go back to the 1930’s, and the railway was reconsidered in the 1990’s. In 2016 Rodrigo Duterte was elected as president of the Philippines, becoming the first Philippine leader from Mindanao. One of his election promises was to begin the project and have a line operating before the end of his term in 2022.
Not long after Duterte came to power it was announced that construction of the 2000km system would begin in 2017. There has since been an announcement every year saying that the project will start next year.
The project will be built in stages, with the first section being a 105km line from Tagum to Davao (the city where Duterte was previously the mayor) and then Digos. The first segment will take 1.3 hours to travel from Tagum to Digos, down from the current 3.5 hours by road.
[Image via rpnradio.com.]
This section will eventually form part of the 830km circular loop around the island. Other media sources quote the total system as being from 1500km to 2000km. There are other maps that show a north-south line from Cagayan de Oro to Davao, which may account for the variations in distance.
The railway was originally going to be a dual-track electricity-powered railway, but it has since been downgraded to a single-track diesel-powered railway. The line will be built to accommodate another track and electrification in the future.
Another issue has been the matter of funding. After interest from the other East Asia powerhouses, China has become the main lender for the project. A condition of this loan is that only Chinese contractors will be selected to bid for the project.
Official Links and Resources
Mindanao Railway: Tagum-Davao City-Digos (TDD) Segment – Official information from the BuildBuildBuild infrastructure portal.
First phase of Mindanao Railway Project to cut Tagum to Digos travel time from 3.5 to 1.3 hours – Press release from the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
Map of proposed Mindanao Railway System. Source: Philippine Department of Transportation.
The following links are the news archives of the Mindanao Railway Project.
Mindanao rail phase 1 construction moved to 2021 – [10/08/20]
“The start of the construction of the China-funded Mindanao railway phase 1 has been moved to the first quarter of 2021, with the government yet to decide on a contractor.”
Mindanao railway bidder shortlist expected this month – [08/06/20]
“The government is expecting to receive the shortlist of bidders for the first phase of the China-funded Mindanao railway from the Chinese Embassy within the month, a transport official said.”
RDC-Davao questions single-track railway – [09/03/20]
“The Regional Development Council in Davao Region (RDC-Davao) wants the Department of Transportation (DOTR) to explain their decision in choosing the single-track design for the first phase of the Mindanao Railway project.”
It’s single-track, diesel-run railway for Tagum, Davao, Digos – [16/01/20]
“The government will build a single-track diesel-run railway instead of a modern dual-track electricity-powered one for the first 102-kilometer portion of the Mindanao Railway Project, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro said.”
Mindanao rail track configuration still contentious – [15/01/20]
“The start of construction for the Mindanao Railway Project, which has been pushed back more than once due to right-of-way (RoW) issues within Davao City, is facing another stumbling block amid questions over the single-track diesel-powered system approved by the national government.”
DOTr seeks to start massive Mindanao railway plan in early ’20 – [07/12/19]
“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) wants to break ground on the first phase of the massive Mindanao Railway Project—among the big-ticket infrastructure deals to be financed mainly by the Chinese government—by early 2020.”
Chinese eye Mindanao rail – [17/09/19]
“At least four Chinese companies have already expressed interest to build an P82.9-billion segment of the Mindanao railway project (MRP), government officials said.”
Davao biz leaders hail new design for Mindanao Railway Project – [19/07/19]
“Local business leaders welcomed the decision to build an P82.9-billion modern dual track, electricity-run railway instead of a P35.9-billion single track, diesel-run one for the first phase of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project.”
No money yet from ‘friend’ China for costlier part of Mindanao railway – [15/07/19]
“The more expensive initial phase of the massive Mindanao Railway Project running through the Davao Region would be funded by the Philippines as no agreement has been reached yet with China for funding despite the Duterte administration’s tight embrace of the Asian behemoth as a friend.”
Mindanao Railway construction to start this year – [05/05/19]
Mindanao railway project moving slow, says MinDA chief – [13/02/19]
“Phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project is moving slow with only three years to accomplish it before President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends in 2022, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto said in an interview on Tuesday.”
Mindanao railway update: LGUs sign MOA with DOTr for land acquisition – [26/01/19]
“Five local government units in Davao Region signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the transfer of funds for the road right of way (RROW) and site acquisition for the first phase of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project.”
Davao City residents protest proposed Mindanao Railway project – [15/12/18]
“Some property owners in golf and residential estates in Catalunan Pequeño here have complained against the proposed Mindanao Railway Project.”
Chinese funding for Mindanao Railway Project ‘a done deal’ -[04/12/18]
“The construction of phase 1 of the Department of Transportation’s Mindanao Railway Project with funds from Chinese Official Development Assistance “is a done deal,” project manager Patmei Ruivivar said. Ruivivar told on Friday that this was confirmed to her by Transportation Undersecretary for railways Timothy John Batan.”
DoTr, LGUs collaborate to fast-track Mindanao’s 1st train project – [31/08/18]
“The strong collaboration between the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Local Government Units (LGU) in Davao region, particularly in the land acquisition phase, is seen to fast-track the multi-billion Mindanao Railway Project (MRP).”
Mindanao railway project to start in January 2019 – [01/08/18]
Double-track electric system eyed for Mindanao railway – [21/06/18]
“The proposed two-track electric train system for the main line of the Mindanao Railway System (MRS) has been approved by the Department of Transportation (DoTr), a Davao-based business leader said.”
DOTr to bid out Mindanao Railway project in June – [25/04/18]
Mindanao Express dream on track – 23/04/18]
[YouTube: Mindanao Express dream on track.]
Mindanao railway project to start in 2018 – [11/12/17]
Mindanao Railway construction starts in 2018 – [03/07/17]
“After more than two decades and several feasibility studies, construction of the 830-kilometer Mindanao Railway Network will finally begin in 2018.”
Duterte’s dilapidated hometown to get makeover with China’s ‘Belt and Road’ investment – [12/05/17]
“A flurry of Chinese-invested projects is poised to turn Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s dilapidated hometown of Davao into a Southeast Asian springboard for Beijing’s grand “Belt and Road Initiative”.”
China to fund Davao’s P40-b infra project; P218-b for Mindanao – [28/03/17]
“Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said Beijing was willing to fund the P40 billion Davao City International Airport Development Project and the proposed P218-billion 830-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project.”
Mindanao Railway project approaches rollout – [16/01/17]
“The 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway project could move closer to a rollout when the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, meets next month.”
Construction of 2,000 km. Mindanao Railway System to start in 2017 – 18/08/16]
“The government is likely to start constructing the Mindanao Railway System next year as one of the priority infrastructure projects under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
Averting Duterte’s impending diplomatic train wreck – [08/07/16]
“China rail connection may come with South China Sea strings.”
Duterte: My first major project is a railway – [30/05/16]
“President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will prioritize the construction of a railway, he told media during a press conference on Saturday night, May 28.”
Bill seeks airport privatization proceeds to fund Mindanao Railway System – [14/07/14]
“The first phase construction of the proposed 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway System (MRS) may soon be a reality if the bill filed by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. is passed into law.”