MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Light Rail Transit line 2 (LRT2) will have limited operations for 9 months, after fire severely damaged two rectifier substations on Thursday, October 3.
Light Rail Transit Authority spokesperson Hernando Cabrera said on Friday, October 4, that partial operations from Recto to Cubao will resume either on Monday, October 7, or Tuesday, October 8.
The LRTA will stop operations from Santolan to Anonas and back "for a maximum of 9 months" as the agency works on fixing the damaged rectifier substations which, it said, required "a highly technical intervention."
LRTA Administrator Reynaldo Berroya said in a statement that test runs and safety checks of all equipment and facilities should be completed before conducting the partial operations.
In the meantime, 8 free shuttle buses from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Coast Guard will be deployed along Santolan to Anonas.
The LRTA said it also commissioned 50 UV Express units to ply the same route, with clearance from the MMDA and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board so that these vehicles would not be apprehended for operating out of line.
Cabrera said that the 9-month period would be used to buy and replace the parts of the system damaged by the fire, since these were not"off the shelf" items. The LRTA said the estimated damage to the rail system is P428 million.
Cabrera said major components damaged by the fire would be imported from the United Kingdom, while smaller items will come from France and Japan.
The 9-month period could be extended if there is congestion at the ports, since the replacement part would be shipped. Cabrera also said another option would be be to bring in the part by place, and that some parts could also be sourced from Singapore and Thailand and assembled accordingly, since their rail systems use similar products as the LRT2.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will be open on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate applications for special bus permits that would be good for 6 months, unless the LRT2 resumes operations at a sooner time.
The entire LRT2 operations have been suspended for two days now due to technical and safety concerns.
Cabrera explained that light maintenance operations could be done while the trains are on the line, and this method would not compromise safety.
As of posting, the cause of the fire was still under investigated. LRTA said US engineers that were involved in the design and installation of the rectifier substations would assist in the investigation. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.