Two weeks since it took over the operation and maintenance of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the consortium led by Manuel Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. (MPLRC), began its assessment of the system and structural improvements needed in the train line’s operations.
The assessment includes examination of the trains, substations, tracks, and passenger terminals in all 20 stations to determine the extent of work needed to improve the service and ensure the safety of approximately 400,000 passengers who ride the LRT-1 daily.
The consortium took over the operations and maintenance of the country’s first and oldest rail system in the country, the LRT-1, from the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) last September 12.
LRMC is the concessionaire for the operations, maintenance and extension of LRT-1, of MPLRC, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), is the controlling shareholder.
AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp., has a 35 percent stake in the consortium which will now operate and maintain LRT-1 for 32 years.
The planned extension of LRT-1 will add an additional 11.7 kilometers to the line, from the current 20.7 km to 32.4 km, starting from Muñoz in Quezon City to Bacoor, Cavite. The current endpoint is the Baclaran station.
Eight new stations will be built along this route, which will traverse the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas up to Bacoor, Cavite.
The extended rail line, where LRMC will invest P35 billion, is envisioned to help ease the worsening traffic conditions in the Parañaque-Las Piñas-Cavite corridor. It is also expected to enhance commercial development around the rail stations.
LRT1 serves approximately half a million passengers today. The extension will serve future high growth centers south of Metro Manila like Cavite.
Oldest train in PH
LRMC is taking over a train system that is severely deteriorated. At 31 years old, it is the oldest train line in Metro Manila. It began construction in September 1980 and started operation in December 1984.
Out of the 100 light rail vehicles (LRVs) committed to be delivered to the LRMC upon its takeover, only approximately 77 are in running condition. It will take time to fix the fleet and restore the system to optimal operating levels.
The consortium said the real benefit of an improved train system will not be felt by the riding public immediately but will come in due course, particularly when the new trains are delivered by the government as part of its obligations under the Concession Agreement, which trains are scheduled to arrive in 2017, barring any delays.
LRMC said it is committed to improve the public’s riding experience over time and gradually bring the LRT-1 system to better operating levels. Particularly, LRMC will begin works starting with improvements in the facilities on all the stations for the safety and security of customers.
Nine of the 11 substations are also in line for rehabilitation to help ensure more reliable train services.
LRMC is owned by Light Rail Manila Holdings Inc. (LRMH), MPLRC, and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. On the other hand, LRMH is jointly owned by MPLRC, a wholly owned subsidiary of MPIC and AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp.
New LRT lines approved
The DOTC has said that delivery of the first batch of 18 coaches for LRT-1 will start in the latter part of 2016.
To augment the existing public transport systems, the NEDA Board has approved two other light rail transit projects, namely LRT Line 4 and LRT Line 6.
Public-Private Partnership Center executive director Cosette Canilao said that the P42.89-billion LRT Line 4 project involves the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of an 11-kilometer rail that will run from SM City Taytay to the intersection of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA Ortigas.
The project hopes to address congestion along Ortigas Avenue and improve transportation to the western parts of Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, the P64.71-billion LRT Line 6 project involves the construction of a 19-kilometer railway from Niyog, Bacoor to Dasmariñas City. The project is expected to cut travel time from Bacoor to Dasmariñas.