MRT3 makes sudden stop, causes panic

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Another glitch hit the Metro Rail Transit (MRT3) Tuesday morning, February 17, after two of its trains abruptly stopped, causing some passengers to fall over.

The first incident occurred at 9:39 am, when a southbound train suddenly stopped near the Santolan station.

The second incident involved a northbound train, which stopped near Magallanes station at 10:53 am.

MRT3 general manager Roman Buenafe said the automatic train protection (ATP) systems of the two trains were activated, causing the abrupt stop.

The incident forced the passengers to disembark. Three passengers had indicated they were hurt, but Buenafe said no serious injuries were reported.

Asked what caused the sudden stop, Buenafe said the aging trains and rails of the MRT may have affected the signalling sensors, triggering the ATP.

But he said that they are still conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the problem.

Buenafe added that the driver of the first train will also face a probe for continuing to operate the train despite already encountering glitches at the Quezon Avenue station – two stops away from Santolan station.


Later on Tuesday, a third glitch hit the mass transit line, when a northbound train stalled near the Boni Avenue station past 3 pm.

Maintenance woes

Buenafe said he could not give assurances that the technical glitches won't happen again, noting the deteriorating condition of the aging train line.

But Buenafe, who took over as MRT3 general manager only last month, promised to be hands-on in coordinating with APT Global, the train's maintenance provider.

"Posibleng mangyari pa [ang mga insidente.] (The glitches might happen again.) But I will involve myself in the activities of the maintenance provider. Patay-sunog po ako ngayon (I'm trying to fix the problems that are already there), but I have rehabilitation projects on deck," he said.

To improve service, Buenafe has ordered APT Global to make sure that 14 trains are operational during peak hours, especially in the morning.

While noting the urgent need to improve the trains and rails, Buenafe said he will also look into adding more handstraps inside the trains for the passengers' safety.

The MRT3 has also come under fire in recent weeks for raising fares despite the continuous glitches and breakdowns that plague the 600,000 daily passengers of the mass transit system.

But Buenafe said the rate hike was not a "magic pill" that would immediately improve the service of the MRT3. –