After years of delay, DOTr begins adding Dalian trains to MRT3

Rambo Talabong
After years of delay, DOTr begins adding Dalian trains to MRT3
A new train with 3 train cars has been added to the MRT3 system, which is known for its frequent breakdowns

MANILA, Philippines –  Two years after they arrived in the Philippines, China-made Dalian trains began their deployment for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) system on Saturday, October 27.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday added a train with 3 train cars to the MRT3 system. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade himself led the agency’s team as the train set completed its first route for the public from North Avenue to Taft Avenue.

During a live broadcast on DOTr’s Facebook page, officials were seen greeting Saturday morning commuters, who quickly noticed the new train’s glossy finish and its cooler air conditioning system.

The Dalian trains are expected to reduce the frequent breakdowns of the MRT3 system, which registered almost daily breakdowns from January to February 2018.

Just one for now: The first train is expected to be followed by another one “very soon,” according to DOTr Undersecretary John Batan.

Okay naman, sinakyan natin kanina. ‘Yun talaga ang objective natin na makita natin ang kaniyang performance…. Regular operations po siya (The ride was okay. That was our objective, to see its performance…. It’s already for regular operations),” Batan said.

The other trains are still under repairs to meet DOTr’s criteria, after the trains were deemed incompatible for the MRT line when they arrived in 2016. Manufacturer CRRC Dalian Company Limited has since then agreed to pay for the trains’ revamp.

When will other trains come? There are 45 other coaches that have yet to be deployed. Asked for an estimate on when the public could use them, Batan said it would be difficult to say.

The DOTr has insisted on a stringent screening process of the trains which consist of:

  • a 1,000-kilometer (km) test run
  • a functionality test to examine its features like its doors, lighting, braking system, etc
  • an examination by German company TUV Rheinland
  • an examination by Japanese company Toshiba Infrastructure Systems
  • a validation by the Philippine National Railways

So far, only 14 train cars have completed the 1,000-km test run.

“The instruction of Secretary Tugade is that we do not rush into this so we do not compromise the safety [of passengers],” Batan said in a mix of English and Filipino. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.