THE Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) system is now near the maximum operating capacity of 20 trains running at the same time since the maintenance provider was able to restore 20 cars in the last nine months.
Busan Universal Rail Inc. noted in a statement the restoration allowed the mass rail transit system to run as many as 18 trains on peak hours – close to the maximum capacity of 20 trains.
“Based on our latest projection, we intend to put into maximum operations within the month, 65 to 66 cars or 22 trains which could assure 20 operational trains on peak hours”, said Charles Perfecto Mercado, spokesman and legal counsel of Busan Universal.
The company said four cars are now undergoing major restoration and overhaul.
“As per our contract, we are scheduled to do major overhaul and restoration of 43 cars. So far, we are about to finish at least 4 cars and these are being implemented simultaneously with the restoration of other cars”, Mercado said.
He cited, however, the repairs are somehow restricted by the limited number of staging areas where the restoration works can be done as the MRT depot only has 2 tracks.
“This is part of the challenge but we’re able to maximize our works given the situation and limited spaces,” he added.
While the overhaul and restoration works are ongoing, the trains may occasionally stall due to the breakdown of aging cars as a result of overcapacity, Mercado noted.
The situation is typical of aging transportation fleets, not a maintenance failure. MRT-3 serves more than 650,000 passengers daily, nearly double its rated capacity of 350,000, while the trains have been operating for so many years.
“Although the disruption in train travel lasts only a few minutes now, this is still not an excuse,” Mercado said
Busan Universal said it was constantly looking for ways to modernize the system in an effort to raise the level of comfort and safety of passengers.
The company took over the MRT support service in January, with the previous maintenance provider leaving 40 operational cars or 13 trains at 3 cars per train. After a month, Busan was able to restore enough cars to operate as many as 16 trains.
MRT-3 is the “biggest challenge” for Busan Universal and Busan Transportation Corporation (BTC) compared with its other foreign projects, such as in Peru, due to the “large volume of ridership” in Metro Manila, Mercado said.