• DOTC to press for new MRT coaches

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    With Metro Manila traffic expected to worsen over the next few months from the construction of at least 15 infrastructure projects, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) expressed on Tuesday the urgency to acquire 48 brand-new Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) to beef up the operations of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) that traverses EDSA.

    “The project is urgently needed after MRTC [Metro Rail Transit Corp.] failed to add any LRVs to the rail system despite DOTC’s demands for it do so since 2007,” the department said in a statement.

    “We hope that the [court]order preventing us from adding brand-new LRVs will be lifted immediately, for the public’s sake,” said Michael Arthur Sagcal, DOTC spokesman.

    He said that the DOTC will be able to increase MRT-3’s capacity within two to three years starting from the time the government is allowed to add new LRVs to the system.

    “Since more passengers will be able to take the train, EDSA traffic should be mitigated considerably,” Sagcal added.

    The transport agency’s MRT-3 Capacity Expansion Project involves the purchase of 48 brand-new LRVs that would be preceded by an open and transparent bidding process.

    The contract for the 48 LRVs was awarded to China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. in January this year. However, a Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) issued a temporary order of protection (TOP) which effectively stopped the purchase of the 48 new LRVs.

    The DOTC project would have increased the trips per hour of MRT-3 to 24 from 20, which will translate to a 60-percent increase in the number of passengers transported per hour in one direction.

    “This means that, from the current 23,640 people who can avail of the rail service every hour heading toward one direction, the project will make it possible for 37,824 passengers to enjoy this convenience,” the DOTC said.

    Sagcal indicated that deploying the new trains cannot be done overnight.

    “The project will take two to three years to complete because the LRVs will still be manufactured. A prototype will be tested on the system within 12 to 18 months, followed by the delivery of three to four units per succeeding month. This means that traffic decongestion can already start by 2015,” he added.

    At present, the rail line’s average daily ridership is over 560,000, and its highest single-day passenger count was 620,000.

    On January 30, the Makati RTC issued the TOP in favor of MRT Holdings II Inc., which claims to own and control 100 percent of MRTC. That company owns the MRT-3 facilities pursuant to its 1997 concession agreement with the government.

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