DOTr eyes opening three subway stations by 2020

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — Three stations for the planned Mega Manila Subway are expected to be operating by 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Monday.

The three stations are North Avenue, Mindanao Avenue, and Tandang Sora in Quezon City.

"[The Japan International Cooperation Agency] says in three years, operable iyan (it will be operable)," DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade told CNN Philippines' The Source. "I'm still hoping I can reduce it to two and a half years so... we will experience the joy and comfort of riding a subway."

Tugade added groundbreaking for the project is set by the end of 2018, a year ahead of schedule.

"Ibig sabihin, mag-uumpisa ho yung trabaho ng konstruksyon sa tatlong estasyon na magiging partially operable," Tugade said.

[Translation: This means we can start construction for three stations to be partially operable.]

The Mega Manila Subway is a 25-kilometer underground railway which is expected to carry 370,000 passengers a day.

It is expected to cover 13 stations from Mindanao Avenue to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City. Proposed stops for the subway in 2017 did not include Tandang Sora.

The P227 billion project is part of President Rodrigo Duterte's Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. It is expected to be completed by 2025.

Plans for the new railway system come amid faltering services of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) line, where an average of two glitches a day were reported in 2017.

Tugade pegged better MRT services by "April or May," upon the arrival of spare parts.

Related: DOTr targets 15 operational MRT trains after Holy Week

He added that he hopes Sumitomo Corporation and its technical partner, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, would return as a maintenance provider by the summer.

Tugade did not comment on the controversial P3.8 billion-worth Dalian trains, which have not been used amid concerns they were too heavy or not compatible with the MRT. A consultant told the Senate this month that the trains were within the allowable weight range.

The secretary said he would wait for a final quality audit report by international certification body TÜV Rheinland before determining whether the government would put the trains to use.

Watch The Source's full interview with Tugade here.