The Department of Transportation (DoTR) signed a record of discussions with the Japan International Cooperation Agency on Thursday for the establishment of a Philippine Railway Institute (PRI) in Valenzuela this year.
“I have seen that there is something missing with our existing rail, and that is the training that should complement the rails. Our partner in building this railway institute is a Japanese group called Metro Tokyo,” DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a chance interview inat the Mapua University where the signing ceremony was held.
Tugade said that with the institute, there will be improvements in operations and equipment maintenance as well as in customer service.
“Let us start this now and we may be able to finish in two years. We already have trainings to conduct,” Tugade said.
Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said that the Philippine Railway Institute consists of two phases: training and eventual plan for the PRI to be a certification body for other institutions.
“For example, Mapua wants to come up with a railway program, that will be certified by the PRI,” Batan explained.
The DoTr also signed a memorandum of agreement with universities offering engineering courses to train their students to work for the Philippine transport sector. Student participants shall be involved in the establishment of the PRI, under the agreement.
The first batch of the universities that have joined the partnership are Mapua University, National University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Technological Institute of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas.
Under the agreement, student teams will be formed to engage in a competition “to further promote students’ exposure to the railway sector, to encourage entry into the railway industry, and to develop participative problem solving of railway sector issues,” the DoTR said.
Competing teams will be required to submit transit-oriented design plans for a 800-meter radius sphere of influence around a team’s selected railway station which may be an existing or a to-be-constructed station.
“It would be a pity if after finishing all these rail projects, we would still be dependent on a third party, so we required everyone to come up with a knowledge transfer module with the schools and universities,” Batan said.
“We added a clause in their participants’ contracts. We required them to come up with trainings, modulesn and workshops. You come up with materials, you come up with your resource person,” Batan said.
The government is set to construct 1,900 kilometers of railway under the Duterte’s administration Build, Build, Build program. The country currentlynos has a total of 77 kilometers of railways.