SAN Miguel Corp. (SMC) announced on Wednesday that the first batch of train cars for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line-7 project, which is targeted for completion next year, will arrive in the Philippines next week.

“The trains, which consist of six cars, or two train sets procured from South Korea’s Hyundai ROTEM, have cleared inspections and factory acceptance testing,” the conglomerate said in an e-mailed statement.

“More trains are set to arrive in the following months up to next year… until all 108 cars or 36 train sets the company acquired are delivered,” it added.

The project, however, remains at “over 54%” completion rate.

In June, San Miguel Holdings Corp. Chief Finance Officer Raoul Eduardo C. Romulo said at an online forum: “As of April 2021, the MRT-7 project is halfway finished, with a total completion rate of 54.87%.”

“There are many causes of delay, from necessary pandemic restrictions to ROW (right-of-way) issues, but as with all SMC projects, we apply 110% effort to all the areas we can work on, so as to minimize delays,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said.

“As we said before, the MRT-7 project is in many ways more difficult and complex than even our recently competed Skyway Stage 3, which in itself is an engineering feat. This is because MRT-7 has added complexities such as electric power systems, computer and communications systems, signaling systems, and automatic fare systems, among others,” he also said.

SMC said the first test run of the MRT-7 project is set for December next year.

The P63-billion project has three major components: a 24.7-kilometer mass rail transit system from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, which is composed of 14 stations; an intermodal transportation terminal that will serve as a transportation hub catering to other types of public transportation; and a 19-kilometer highway from San Jose del Monte to Bocaue, Bulacan.

It is expected to accommodate up to 850,000 passengers daily and cut travel time between Quezon City and Bulacan from four hours to 34 minutes. — Arjay L. Balinbin