After delay, Philippines, Japan to sign MRT3 rehab loan deal on November 7

Aika Rey
The P22.06-billion MRT3 rehabilitation project will mostly be funded by an P18-billion loan from the Japanese government

RAILWAY. Commuters wait to board the Metro Rail Transit Line 3. File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – After months of delay, the governments of the Philippines and Japan are set to sign a loan agreement for the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) on November 7.

The signing of the P18-billion deal with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was confirmed by Railways Undersecretary Timothy John Batan in a press briefing on Wednesday, October 31.

“The signing of the loan agreement was finalized, and the agreed date is November 7, so it’s in a few days,” Batan said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Back in August, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) approved the P22.06-billion MRT3 rehabilitation project.

It will mostly be funded by the Japanese loan, while the remaining amount will be shouldered by the Philippine government. The project is expected to be completed by the 1st quarter of 2021.

Entry of maintenance provider: Batan added that Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) returned as maintenance provider starting October 15, ahead of the loan deal signing.

Sumitomo-MHI built and designed the MRT3 railway system from 1998 to 2000, and maintained it until 2012.

“The return of our Japanese maintenance provider started October 15. They agreed even in advance of our loan agreement [signing] and Exchange of Notes and contract. This is the commitment of the government of Japan to accelerate the process,” Batan said.

More trains, eventually? Asked when more trains would be deployed, Batan did not give a definite timeline.

The MRT3 began deploying the controversial China-made Dalian train on October 27, with an initial 3 train cars introduced to the system.

Batan said all 48 Dalian train coaches will have to undergo a 1,000-kilometer test during off-revenue hours, other functionality tests and examinations by Germany’s TUV Rheinland and Japan’s Toshiba Infrastructure Systems, and a final validation by the Philippine National Railways.

Of the 48, only 14 have completed the test run. This already includes the 3 train cars introduced to the MRT3. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at