SOME relief is in sight for thousands of weary commuters of the ailing Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) system with the delivery Thursday morning of three new prototype MRT trains at the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) depot in Pasay City.
Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya on Thursday led the inspection as Chinese engineers began to assemble the prototype trains.
The new trains will be transferred to the MRT 3 depot in North Edsa, Quezon City to undergo several tests and inspections before they go on regular runs.
Abaya said, “We’re trying to speed up the deliveries as well, so hopefully a meeting could be conducted next week to speed up delivery. It’s more really on assembling all the components to speed up the delivery.”
According to the DOTC, the prototype trains arrived in August and will be subjected to static testing this month – which means checking the doors, seats, poles, and hand straps — and then to dynamic testing in November.
The government ordered 48 brand-new train cars from Chinese firm CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. Ltd., which won the P3.8 billion contract for the MRT 3 capacity expansion project.
The prototype train—painted in blue, yellow and silver—is not much different from the old ones although it offers a slightly wider space to accommodate more passengers.
The DOTC earlier said that the purchase of the new train cars is another step closer to upgrading and modernizing the MRT-3 and improving its services to the public.
The new trains incorporate alternating current (AC) technology and will be delivered to Manila starting in the first quarter of 2016.
The DOTC is also acquiring 30 four-car trains or 120 coaches for Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 as part of the Cavite Extension Project, which will extend the current line from Baclaran to Niog in Bacoor, Cavite. The project will be tendered later this year.
Meanwhile, with the successful pilot test of the new tap-and-go ticketing system at the Legarda station of the LRT-2 system earlier this week, the DOTC and the LRTA are set to conduct trial runs of the smart card-based scheme at the Betty Go Belmonte station starting today.
The unified contactless ticketing system will be activated at the nine remaining stations over the next two weeks before it is implemented on the LRT-1 and MRT-3.
DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said test runs will be done in November and December for the prototype train cars.
If the tests go smoothly and no problems are found, the new train cars will be delivered in the first quarter next year to augment the current MRT trains.
In an earlier statement, Dalian Locomotive assured that their trains are reliable and trustworthy and that they have exported diesel locomotives, electric locomotives and metro cars to more than 20 countries over the years.
“We wish to assure Filipino commuters that our products have been tested all through
long years of worldwide usage and never has there been any report that our vehicles have caused fatal accidents directly attributable to inherent defects of our vehicles’ mechanical railworthiness,” Dalian Locomotive said.
“We have adequately trained rail engineers and a complementing staff of equally competent and experienced technical people working tirelessly to ensure the safety and reliability of our vehicles’ system and functional dependability,” the company added.
With 13 stations and 73 train coaches, the MRT 3 serves around 600,000 passengers daily, which is way above its design capacity of 350,000.
Once the new train cars arrive, the DOTC said the MRT 3 would be able to accommodate roughly 900,000 passengers daily.