Dalian trains may be used later this year but...

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation on Thursday, July 5 said the trains acquired from China-based CRRC Dalian Company Limited can be used later this 2018, but on one condition: the trains need to be repaired.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the audit report by Germany's TUV Rheinland found discrepancies between the actual delivered trains and what was stipulated on the terms of reference, among others.

"'Pag nirepaso mo buong evaluation, 'pag itong nasaayos sa tamang pamamaraan. Pwede mo pang magamit ang bagon at tren without sacrificing the safety and security of life and the system," Tugade said.

(If you review the evaluation, [the recommendation is] it needs to the repaired in the right way, then you can use the coaches and the train without sacrificing the safety and security of life and the system.)

Tugade wants these repaired. He said the officials of Dalian agreed to the condition during a meeting on Wednesday, July 4.

"Nagkasundo na kung may dapat gawin, lahat ng gastuin na 'yun ay a-absorbin ng Dalian para malagay sa tamang posisyon na gusto natin sa original na agreement," Tugade said.

(We agreed that if there is something that needs to be done, Dalian will absorb all the costs that will be spent to repair the [trains], as how we want it in the original agreement.)

Tugade added that Dalian also agreed to provide spare parts and to pay the cost of the delay in delivery of the trains.

But all these were dependent on a high-level meeting between the Philippine and Chinese government in August, which will also decide the fate of Dalian trains, he said.

New maintenance provider

The transportation chief stressed the need for new trains, as repairs of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) system will be expected when Japan's Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) comes in.

Tugade said that the trains available for the public will be reduced.

"'Pag natuloy ang repair, baka ang magagamit lang ay 12. 'Pag magagamit ang Dalian trains, without sacrificing the quality, pwede natin maaachieve [serving] ang [riding] population na 500,000," Tugade said.

(When the repairs happen, we may only be able use 12 [trains]. If we are to use Dalian trains, without sacrificing the quality, we can serve the riding population of around 500,000.)

Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI) took over as maintenance provider of MRT3 early 2016. DOTr terminated its contract with BURI in November 2017 after it failed to address the maintenance issues raised by the government.

Tugade announced Sumitomo will come in as the new maintenance provider this July, after signing a loan agreement with the Japanese government.

The 48 Dalian trains were delivered in 2016 but remained unused due to compatibility issues. The new coaches were part of the MRT3 expansion project, which aimed to decongest the railway system and increase its capacity to serve over 800,000 passengers daily.

The DOTr said the Dalian trains exceeded the total weight stipulated in its contract. The DOTr specified that each train should weigh 46.4 tons, but the delivered trains weighed 49.7 tons.

Since the year started, the MRT3 has broken down 60 times and experienced a record low of 6 running trains back in February. Ridership was cut down to around 200,000 then, from an average daily ridership of 463,000 in 2017. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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