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MANILA, Philippines – The government may now acquire brand new Metro Rail Transit (MRT) trains from a Chinese firm after the Makati City Regional Trial Court dismissed the case seeking to stop the purchase.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) announced Monday, February 24 that it gave Dailan Locomotive & Rolling Stock Company of China the go signal to supply 48 light rail vehicles (LRVs) for the MRT 3 along EDSA. The LRVs are worth P3.8 billion.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said Makati RTC Branch 66 junked the injunction case filed by the Manuel V. Pangilinan group, which controls MRT 3 operator Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC).
“The DOTC successfully fought for public interest and defended its position in court, but the true winners are the riders of MRT3,” Abaya said.
In its decision, the court cited Republic Act 8975, which states that only the Supreme Court could stop government infrastructure projects from proceeding.
“The supplier can now start manufacturing the 48 brand new LRVs, which will be delivered in tranches starting in the second half of 2015,” noted Abaya.
Under the terms of the contract, Dalian Locomotive has 18 months to deliver the prototype LRV for testing on the MRT 3 system. It should deliver the remaining LRVs in tranches over the succeeding 18 months.
The DOTC chief said Dalian Locomotive commited to expedite the manufacturing process by dedicating more workers to the project so it could deliver the prototype in 12 months. “Our commuters deserve better services at MRT 3, and the addition of more LRVs is long overdue. We are doing all we can to get them here as soon as possible, and Dalian has expressed the same commitment to riding public.”
The government is expanding the capacity of MRT 3 with the goal of cutting waiting time at stations and decongesting the rail system. Currently, there are 73 coaches serving passengers at 3-minute intervals.
The 17-kilometer rail line runs from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City. It carries 600,000 passengers a day, way above its design capacity of 350,000.
Abaya said the expansion of MRT 3 is timely since it extended operating hours to help mitigate the traffic situation in Metro Manila. Motorists and commuters are preparing for heavier than usual traffic because of 15 simultaneous major roadworks from 2014 to 2016. The first of the road projects, the Skyway Stage 3, began construction on February 17.
The government is eyeing to buy out MRTC’s private owners to have a free hand in deciding the MRT 3’s operations. (READ: P56-B budget for MRT buyout ready)
“The DOTC and the Department of Finance should speed up the buy-out of MRTC, to free government from having to deal with the likes of those behind the case. They were clearly more than willing to file a baseless petition and delay the project at the expense of the public,” Abaya said. – Rappler.com