House panel pushes for 2 tracks, electrification of Mindanao railway

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) – The House committee on Mindanao affairs wants the Mindanao railway to eventually be a two-track, electric-powered line instead of a single-track railway with diesel engines.

The committee approved on Tuesday a resolution directing the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to submit a feasibility study on the project.

The resolution was amended to include the proposal of committee chairman and Lanao Del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo for the future upgrade of the Mindanao railway project.

"We want our Mindanao railway to be at par with international standards and I think it's what it demands," he said.

"It is the wish or the will and the intention of the members of Congress, specifically members of Mindanao affairs that the plan of the DOTr, that the Mindanao railway will be upgradeable to a dual-track, electric railway," Dimaporo added.

The lawmaker said the feasibility study on the project should also be conducted simultaneously instead of phase by phase.

According to the DOTr, the first phase of the Mindanao railway line will have a single track, although there will be provisions for future tracks and electrification. Construction is seen to start in the first quarter of 2021.

The first segment will have eight stations from Tagum, Davao del Norte to Digos City in Davao del Sur.

During the hearing, the committee also approved a resolution calling on the national government to allocate adequate funds to decongest airports in Mindanao, which were already operating at full capacity even before the COVID-19 pandemic.