DOTC to get new MRT3 trains starting January 2016

Chrisee Dela Paz
DOTC to get new MRT3 trains starting January 2016
(UPDATED) MRT3 passengers will have to wait a little bit longer, as the delivery of new train coaches is set to begin in January 2016 instead of late 2015

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The transportation department will start receiving new coaches for the glitch-ridden Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) in late January 2016 as part of its long-term rehabilitation plan.

Transportation officials gave the report to Transportation Secretary Jopseh Emilio Abaya upon their return from their inspection of the 48 new light rail vehicles (LRVs) for MRT3 in Dalian, China.

“As reported by the joint DOTC and MRT-3 team, the prototype is on-schedule for delivery in mid-August. The dynamic testing phase will start in November, which is when the prototype’s bogies will arrive,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said in a statement Tuesday, June 23.

He added: “In the meantime, we will assemble the prototype and check its components ahead of the dynamic testing. The monthly delivery of 3-train cars should start in late January 2016.”

It was earlier reported that the first monthly delivery of 3-train cars was supposed to start in the last quarter of the year, with the last batch expected in March 2016.

Apparently anticipating criticism of the January 2016 arrival of the first batch of new coaches, Abaya said: “What is important to us is that the train cars, once delivered, will be safe and reliable. So we prefer to be thorough with the manufacturing, assembling, checking, and testing of the prototype.”

Due to inadequate train sets, the government has been under fire for technical glitches and long queue lines.

It is during rush hour – mornings when passengers travel to work and early evenings when they return home – that riding the MRT3, along with other elevated railways, becomes a suffering, with passengers packed in a train like sardines after waiting for long hours.

The working timeline for the transportation department and the MRT3 is as follows:

End-August 2015​

Completion of assembly of prototype

September-October 2015

Checking or static testing of prototype, including dimensions, materials, and components such as lights, doors, handrails, seats, etc

Mid-November 2015

Arrival of bogies

End-November to End-December 2015

Dynamic testing and necessary adjustments

January 2016

Acceptance/approval, start of monthly delivery

No truth to ‘excuse letters’

DOTC also clarified Tuesday that contrary to earlier news reports, the transportation department said it will not issue “excuse letters” to passengers, especially students, affected by MRT3 glitches and long queue lines.

“At most, a copy of relevant incident reports may be released to any requesting member of the general public for whatever useful purposes this may serve, in line with the policy of transparency,” the  DOTC and the MRT3 management said in a joint statement.

“This is a transparency measure. People deserve to know what problems occurred, anything that could cause a stoppage from a broken rail to air-conditioning that stopped working,” transportation department spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal told Agence France-Presse.

The “incident report,” however, will only certify the cause of the delay and will not be worded as an excuse letter for tardiness, Sagcal said.

“It’s up to the requesting individual how to use it,” he said, when asked if the document could be used as an excuse letter.

The transportation department said MRT3 problems are being addressed by long-term rehabilitation and improvement projects, such as additional train cars, and the replacement of around 7,000 meters of rails, which may begin soon after their delivery within the month.

Commuters walking on overhead rail tracks several storeys high beside stalled trains have become a common sight in the packed city of 12 million people.

The decaying MRT is also dangerous. In August 2014, dozens were injured after one train overshot its track and rammed into a busy highway. (READ: MRT-3 train derailed, injuries reported)

“We understand the frustration of the public. We’re doing the best we can but solutions are not overnight,” Sagcal said.

Other rehabilitation projects in the pipeline include the signaling system replacement and rehabilitation of the system’s elevators and escalators. with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com 

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