MindaRail – Mindanao Railway System construction starts 2017


MindaRail, the Mindanao Railway System is said to start construction in 2017.

I have already written about this project. The first article from May 2015 looks at the Feasibility Study. The last article from July 2016 displays the different railway projects throughout the Philippines and analyses the cost expectations for the MindRail project. Last Saturday the Sun Star published an article with title: MindaRail to start construction in 2017.

Political optimism or opportunism?

Senator Sonny Angara has already filed Senate Bill No. 137 on June 30, 2016. This Senate Bill which aims to establish the “MindaRail” or creating the state-owned Mindanao Railways Corporation. It will have an allocation of approximately PHP 86 billion and will have an 11-person Board – set to be appointed by President Duterte. The content of the Senate Bill is purely politic and economic. The focus is the creation of a corporation, describe its powers, functions and duties. The Senate Bill also outlines the funding of the operation.

This Senate Bill is still pending …

Do you really think that Senate will approve the bill and detailed construction plans can be drawn in less than 16 months? Otherwise it would rather be 2018 or 2019.

MindaRail an engineering challenge

It also seems that MindRail has not yet published detailed plans of the future railway tracks. Looking at geography of Phase 1 from Iligan to Gingoog reveals some rather difficult sections. There are many hills to climb, to cut or to tunnel. Many river beds will require sturdy bridges. Climbing hills is not so easy. Have a look at our Bicol Express Movie. From Minute 03:55 you can see what happens, when the track is humid. The slope in the movie climbs at less than 5 degrees. Cutting the hills is also a difficult and complex task. In Camiguin they did cut a hill, see Camiguin Concrete Madness. For now more than a year permanent landslides interrupt the road and menace the lives of tourists and local people. Digging tunnels is areal science and is extremely expensive. The tunnel through the St. Gotthard in Switzerland needed 16 years to be drilled. The 57 km long tunnel did cost 10.1 billion US dollars – 464,555,000,000 pesos.

We are really curious and interested to see where exactly the engineers want to build the tracks of the future MindaRail.

What first – the track or the trains?

From the Sun Star article:  NEDA-Northern-Mindanao said that at the moment, surveys are being made for the purchase of the trains to be used for the railway system although China, South Korea, and Japan are showing interests to take part in the project. The MRS will be for the transportation of both commercial passengers and freight cargos.

This is a strange sequence. If you plan to buy a car, you first look at the roads you want to drive on. OK, there are people driving with a Range Rover in the city. But nobody drives with a Rolls Royce on a bumpy dirt track – in India, maybe…

I therefore suggest to build the track first. If there shouldn’t be any money left over at the end, local people can then use tracks like the Bicolanos do …Railskate in Bicol

Here is the official analysis and outlook prepared by NEDA-Northern-Mindanao: Regional Physical Framwork Plan 2013-2040 This is really a very interesting document that contains 0n 238 pages a lot of astonishing information about northern Mindanao. Caution RPFP_2040.pdf is the final draft with a lot of annotations.



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