THOUSANDS of weekend rail commuters were stranded after a train of the Light Railway Transit Line 1 slammed into another train near the Monumento station on Saturday morning.
A train operator was hurt after the impact caused his head to slam into the dashboard, Hernando Cabrera, spokesman of the Light Railway Transit Authority said.
The LRTA immediately shut down the railway forcing passengers who were waiting for their ride in various stations to get down from the elevated terminals and look for alternative transport.
Operations went back online at past 1 p.m.
The Department of Transportation and Communications ordered the LRTA to investigate the incident.
Cabrera said the accident was caused by power fluctuation that affected the railway’s signaling system.
“The power fluctuation triggered the system to send command to stop all trains as a safety protocol, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and for that, the system was able to send command to all signal lights to turn red and stop all trains,” he said in a statement.
The trains involved in the incident were taken to the LRTA depot in Pasay City for inspection.
“The DOTC has instructed the LRTA to conduct a through but swift investigation in order to identify the exact cause of the incident,” DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said in a text message.
He added, “We want to ensure that no similar incidents will occur in the future specially since passenger safety remains our priority.”
In an interview with radio station dzMM, Cabrera said the train was running on a low speed when it slammed into the parked train.
A passenger interviewed over radio narrated that the train driver tried to hit the brakes but it failed to stop the train.
In 2011, operations of the LRT-1 was suspended after a train hit another train between the Balintawak and Roosevelt stations
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares criticized the DOTC for “playing with the lives” of the commuters.
“Billions of pesos have been allocated to the DOTC for the MRT and LRT yet they play around with the lives of the commuters. Fortunately, there were no casualties but somebody should be held responsible for this,” he said.
“The LRT accident along with the MRT derailment last year is deplorable for the simple fact that it could have been prevented with the proper maintenance of the trains. The DOTC should not wait for a fatal accident before acting,” Colmenares added.
The group Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (Riles) Network blamed poor maintenance for the incident.
Riles spokesperson Sammy Malunes, a former employee of the LRTA, belied LRTA spokesperson Cabrera’s claim that a power fluctuation disrupted communication between the trains.
“No, power fluctuations should not cause trains collision. Any LRT worker can tell you that. Adjustments can be made by workers when there are power disruptions as long as the trains’ maintenance is okay,” Malunes said.
The group’s spokesperson said many accidents in the country’s train systems are caused by poor maintenance.
“Incidents like these force us to confront the problem with the country’s train systems. Private contractors are pocketing too much money while refusing to improve their service to the public,” Malunes added.
WITH ROSALIE C. PERIABRAS AND NEIL A. ALCOBER