Metro Manila Subway project to start soon with tunnel boring system mobilization


The underground works for the ‘Project of the Century’ – the Metro Manila Subway – will finally commence soon as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) unveiled the gigantic cutter head of the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) to be used in the line’s construction.

The unveiled cutter head will be attached to “Kaunlaran,” the first of six TBMs intended for use in the partial operability section of the subway. The unveiling was held during the Arrival Ceremony at the Manila North Centre Port Terminal on Friday.

The cutter head is the largest and heaviest part of the TBM, weighing 74 tons. Its main purpose is to break, cut and grind rocks and soil by rotating its 36-piece disc cutter, composed of 15 pieces of single and 21 pieces of twin roller cutter (RC).

“This tunnel boring machine symbolizes its name, ‘Kaunlaran’. Today, we ask you as we applaud the coming of ‘Kaunlaran’ – I ask you in joining us in riding the Philippines’ first metro subway,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said in his message.

The arrival of the first TBM cutter head signals the continuous arrival of the other TBM equipment and materials. On the following days, the remaining parts of the machine will arrive and will be transported at the site for assembly. This will be followed by the conduct of a mandatory operational test prior to the lowering and main drive underground that is expected to be done in the third quarter of this year.

A total of 25 TBMs will be utilized for the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP). Each TBM has an outer diameter of 6.99 meters, 95 meters in total length, with approximately 700 tons in total weight. These enormous TBMs play an integral part in building the subway as they will be used to dig underground and lay out the tunnels. The TBMs can excavate through a variety of ground conditions, from hard rock to sand.

The MMSP is the first underground railway system in the country that will provide the most modern mass transportation in the National Capital Region (NCR), from Valenzuela City to Bicutan, Parañaque, and NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay, and will further stretch across North and South zones of the Greater Capital Region.

Meanwhile, the Transportation chief also stressed that he will continue to challenge the railway sector and its private partners for the partial operability section of the project to be completed before 2021 ends.

“I know that I have pressured you, and I have pressured you so hard in order to have this project. But as I thank you, I assure you: I will pressure and push you harder so that we will achieve the partial operability [of the MMSP] at least in my target, December of this year; at worst, in the target of the contractors, February of next year,” Tugade said.

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