Island network

first_imgRARELY today are railway investment projects justified solely as tools for regional development. Even rarer are ones as ambitious as the 2000 km network proposed on the Philip-pine island of Mindanao. Despite the considerable problems afflicting PNR’s main lines on Luzon, the government rightly believes that rail can play a significant role in generating investment and industrial growth. Hence last month’s decision to set up a Mindanao Rail Project Task Force, comprising representatives from the Department of Transportation & Communications and from the Southern Philippines Council for Peace & Development, whose chairman Nur Misuari was an early supporter. Next stage will be to carry out a detailed 200m pesos feasibility study to assess the prospects for lines to link the cities of Zamboanga in the far southwest and Davao in the southeast with Iligan and Cagayan de Oro in the north.Potential contractors are already eyeing the opportunities, with 10 companies looking to form a bidding consortium. These include Adtranz, Siemens and Grinaker Construction International and local firms, while Transnet of South Africa may join them. Rivals could include CAF of Spain, which is involved in the 76 km line to the planned international airport at Clark air base (p500) – this, incidentally, will be welcomed by those spending up to 5h in taxis between the present airport and central Manila.The project has a 12-year timescale, but whether it ever progresses beyond lines on maps remains to be seen. olast_img