Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), the maintenance provider of MRT-3, is speeding up its work to replace the line’s rails and signal system in anticipation of increased ridership for the Christmas season, the company said in a statement.
This is to ensure further efficiency and safety in MRT-3 operations, and to allow the light rail to better serve the commuting public, BURI said.
“We know how important it is for commuters to have fast, safe, and secure transportation during the holiday season,” said Lawyer Charles Mercado, spokesperson of BURI.
“We will endeavor to put as many trains on the tracks as possible, to meet commuting demands. And we will back this up with enough spares to ensure trouble-free travel in case of unforeseen stoppages,” Mercado added.
He said that BURI has exceeded its target in delivering the maximum serviceable number of cars since its service contract started in January this year.
To date, BURI has put 65 cars in good running condition into service, enough for 20 trains plus one train set and two spare cars.
BURI said it has restored an average of two to three cars every month since its contract started in January in order to be able field up to 20 trains (consisting of three cars) on the revenue line during peak periods. Peak runs are backed up by two reserve cars at the depot.
Four cars are still undergoing general overhaul, BURI said.
Mercado noted that given the age of the system, which is nearly 20 years, breakdowns and temporary shutdowns are to be expected even with regular and proper maintenance and calibration.
However, the company endeavors to minimize disruptions and to keep the system running at optimum, he said.
He also noted also that train stoppages are not a maintenance issue but a safety precaution triggered by the system’s automatic train protection (ATP).
BURI said rail repair and maintenance were crucial components of operations, noting that poor maintenance in the past had also resulted in damage to train cars.
“Rail repair will also allow the system to run more trains and at faster speeds, thus boosting ridership and operating efficiency particularly during the holidays,” Mercado said.
Under BURI’s service and maintenance contract, it is to undertake system maintenance, general overhaul of 43 coaches, total replacement of the signaling system, as well as all special repair works.
At the start of the project, BURI purchased start-up spare parts so that it could restore the down cars left behind by previous maintenance providers. All spares were inspected and approved by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
Also, it has carried out rail grinding of the entire mainline (68 kilometers) as part of its contract. It has also replaced 1,462 linear meters out of 7,200 linear meters of rail that need changing.
Rail preparation and replacement is now ongoing to complete the required repairs on the entire rail line.
It added that an independent assessment report on the tracks made on April 2011 showed that they were in bad condition as the previous maintenance provider did not perform any rail grinding of the whole stretch of the mainline during its 12 years as MRT-3 maintenance provider.
Under its contract, BURI is also to replace the entire signaling system within 24 months. This is to upgrade and further boost the safety standards of MRT-3. BURI also said 52 cars underwent bogie inspections and all bogie frames with cracks were replaced with spares. Defective motors and as well as aircon compressors were also replaced.
The delivery of 48 new wagons is expected to be completed by early next year. These will add to the 72 existing wagons in service. New ancillary systems should be done by the end of 2017, and a new signaling system, which is a key safety feature, will be complete by early 2018.
MRT-3 now carries an average of over 420,000 passengers daily, with ridership climbing from 9.8 million in January to 12.2 million by October as a result of BURI’s improved maintenance service.