MRT3 operations halted over communications breakdown

Rappler.com
(2nd UPDATE) 'This is a safety issue so we have no choice but to stop operations,' the LRTA and MRT3 spokesperson says, in explaining the decision
MRT3 OPERATIONS. File photo shows MRT3 passengers masses at a station.  

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) suspended operations starting 12:05 pm on Saturday, August 23, due to a breakdown of its radio communications system.

Hernando Cabrera, spokesperson of the Light Rail Transit Authority and MRT3, said the train management was compelled to suspend operations after the train line’s radio communications system encountered a problem.

“This is a safety issue so we have no choice but to stop operations,” Cabrera said in an interview on dzBB.

He apologized to MRT3 users, saying the suspension was prompted by safety concerns. 

“We cannot operate without radio communications,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said in an interview with Rappler that around 11:15 am, a problem was detected in the communications system, or the radio system between the train drivers and the control center.

He said while the drivers can transmit messages, the control center cannot, turning it into a one-way communication.

“Since this is vital to the safety of our operations, the security officer called for the suspension [of operations],” Cabrera said.

Since trains could still operate through “signalling,” the official said all trains were told to go to the nearest station to unload their passengers.

He said that the problem is being fixed, but cannot give an estimate on when operations are likely to resume. 

Cabrera tweeted past 6 pm that “MRT3 will no longer resume operations today, communication system still down, repairs ongoing.”

He said that as far as he could recall, this was the first time for the MRT3 to encounter such a problem. He also said that the communications system will be upgraded, but the process is “still in its early stages.”

“They’re still drafting the terms of the bidding, among others,” he said.

The technical issue comes over a week after the derailing of an MRT3 train reportedly caused by human error, and is the latest in a long line of problems hounding the train system operations.  

The August 13 train derailing is the train system’s worst accident to date, injuring around 36 people when a train breached the safety barriers in its station in Pasay City. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com