Sunday, February 7, 2021

DOTr unveils Cutter Head of the first Tunnel Boring Machine for Metro Manila Subway Project

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The underground works for the ‘Project of the Century’ – the Metro Manila Subway – will finally commence soon as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) unveils 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 today, 05 February 2021.

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 dahil ito ‘ho ay paglakbay papunta sa kaunlaran,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. 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 of February 2021, 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.

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,” Secretary Tugade said.

Guests present in the ceremony who included delegates from the Japanese government, Cabinet secretaries, government officials, and private partnershave have expressed their support for the realization of the much-awaited subway project, which is one of the flagship projects of the Duterte Administration's “BUILD, BUILD, BUILD” program.

“We will continue to support the Philippine government by utilizing our state-of-the-art technologies, and ensuring a fast and sure approach,” Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa expressed.

“I congratulate the DOTr, the JICA [Japan International Cooperation Agency], and the Japanese government for this historic and momentous event. Sa wakas po, magkakaroon na tayo ng subway. We were the first to have the LRT in the whole of Asia and although we were a bit delayed in having our subway, now we can say we have truly modernized our transportation in this country. The arrival of this equipment is significant because it contributes further to what I have described as the ‘Renaissance of Philippine Infrastructure,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque noted.

To note, the proposal to build the first subway line in Metro Manila was conceived way back in September 1973 in a study conducted by JICA's predecessor, the Japan Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency.

“On our part in this endeavor, we assure you that JICA will do everything it can to support the Philippine government and the DOTr, not only for this project, but for all the other partnerships under the BUILD, BUILD, BUILD program amidst the difficult condition we are experiencing due to COVID-19,” JICA Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa said.

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, ParaƱaque, and NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay, and will further stretch across North and South zones of the Greater Capital Region.

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