JUST a month and a half after taking over the operation and maintenance of Light Rail Transit Line-1 (LRT-1) from the government, Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) now plans to spend P500 million on upgrading 20 stations and finish the project in less than two years.
“We are actually targeting around 15 to 18 months for the 20 stations. It looks like half a billion pesos [will be spent]for the entire project. We are actually targeting to start by December,” LRMC president and chief executive officer Jesus Francisco told reporters.
“We need to improve the floor tiles, elevators and restrooms,” he said.
LRMC said the number of train coaches that are running have already increased to 84 light rail vehicles (LRVs) from 78 previously and they are planning to further increase it to 87 by next month.
“Today, the number of trains operational was 27 trains or about 84 LRVs. What we would have wanted is to have 28 trains or 87 LRVs. Before taking over we have only 78 LRVs,” Francisco said.
Francisco added: “We have no reserve trains. We don’t have the luxury now to have reserve trains. All of them now are operational. We are still trying to fix many of the trains. Give us another month or so, it would be 87 LRVs or more.”
“We were having discussions on the arrival of the new trains,” he continued.
“We are estimating that we should get them actually originally next year, but now, because of the delay in the invitation to bid, we are now looking at the earliest possible time—late 2017—and more probably it would be 2018. So we have to concentrate on the existing vehicles and keeping them operational and comfortable until the [new]trains arrive.”
He said that once government brings in the new LRVs, the company expects passenger traffic to increase, hence the need to make sure that the stations are ready to handle the expanded capacity.
“We can actually eliminate the queuing. That is really my desire, but we will have to depend on the new trains that the grantors will be delivering,” Francisco said.
Better passenger flow
According to Francisco, the Station Improvement Project will start with Doroteo Jose Station, the interchange terminal of LRT Lines 1 and 2 in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Once the improvements are done, it is expected that the stations will be well-lit and organized to allow better passenger flow.
LRMC is targeting to start improvements on the Doroteo Jose Station this December.
After that, the two biggest stations—Central and Baclaran—will begin renovations in March 2016. The three smaller stations—R. Papa, Abad Santos, and Gil Puyat—will follow and work on the rest of the 14 stations will start in May and August 2016.
At present, the oldest rail line can accommodate a daily load of 400,000 commuters from Baclaran in Pasay City to Roosevelt in Quezon City.
LRMC took over the operation and maintenance (O&M) of LRT-1 last September 1. It will also be responsible for the construction of a 11.7-kilometer extension from the prese nt endpoint at Baclaran to the Niog area in Bacoor, Cavite.
The extended rail line will expand the capacity of LRT-1 to 800,000 passengers daily and benefit more than 4 million residents in the southern part of Metro Manila and Cavite.
LRMC, the consortium led by Manuel Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp.
(MPLRC) began its assessment of system and structural improvements needed in the train line’s operations following its takeover of the operation and maintenance (O&M) of LRT-1.
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 its daily passengers.
LRMC is the concessionaire for the O&M contract and extension of LRT-1, of which 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 extended rail line for which 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.
“The plan is consistent with its commitment to provide better service and giving commuters the best station environment as possible,” Francisco said.