Tugade urges public: Don’t rush use of Dalian trains on MRT3

Aika Rey
Tugade urges public: Don’t rush use of Dalian trains on MRT3
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade urges the public to wait for the final assessment of the Dalian trains, due on March 10

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Thursday, March 1, that the government cannot rush the use of the 48 trains acquired from China-based CRRC Dalian Company Limited, as this would depend on the audit being conducted on the trains.

In an interview on Thursday, Tugade urged the public to wait for the audit results of the Dalian trains, to be sure whether the trains can be used.

Since 2018 started, the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) experienced a total of 38 breakdowns from its 8 to 9 working trains, with ridership falling to some 270,000 passengers on average this week.

“Let’s not rush what the audit will reveal. We haven’t seen the result of the audit. Until then, we will be able to come up with the next steps,” Tugade said in Filipino in a media interview on Thursday.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) tapped Germany-based TUV Rheinland  to evaluate the unused MRT3 trains. The assessment will come out on March 10.

During the Senate hearing on the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) in February, an expert said that the 48 Dalian trains are “not overweight” and within the allowable limit that MRT3 train tracks can carry.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said on Thursday that the audit by TUV Rheinland will determine not only the usability of the Dalian trains but the entire MRT3 system. 

“We want to ensure that we will not expose our half a million passengers to unsafe conditions – that’s the reason why we are focusing on the safety and compatibility of the Dalian trains,” Batan said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Improvement

After experiencing a new low on February 19 when the week opened without  functioning trains, the now MRT3 averages with 8 to 9 operational trains this week – an improvement from last week’s 7 trains on average.

Tugade attributed this to the availability of spare parts which were recently delivered.

According to the DOTr, the MRT3 did not suffer from glitches for 7 days since the last breakdown last week. (READ: Surviving MRT3: Worst train fails in 2017)

“These days, we are lucky because the spare parts needed have been delivered….I hope this [improvement in services] continues,” Tugade told reporters.

The transportation secretary appealled for public understanding. He said that the department was doing its best to deliver on its promises of timelines and number of trains available. (READ: DOTr promises better MRT3 services by 2nd quarter of 2018)

The MRT3 management is expected to conduct a full rehabilitation of its trains from March 28 to 31, promising the public better services after. According to Tugade, the public should expect 15 working trains by then. – Rappler.com

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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 aika.rey@rappler.com.