COMMUTER TRAIN operator Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) announced Monday the postponement of the opening of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) East Extension Project from June 22 to next month.

“We regret to inform the riding public that the long-awaited opening of the… LRT-2 East Extension Project was postponed for at least two weeks to give maximum time for the contractor to complete the signaling migration and integration works, and other preparatory activities,” LRTA Administrator Reynaldo I. Berroya said in a statement.

The East Extension Project adds four kilometers to the 13.8-kilometer LRT-2 train line, connecting it to Antipolo City. 

With the inauguration ceremony now set for July 5, the Marikina and Antipolo stations are due to open to passengers the following day.

The LRTA said the pandemic restricted the arrival of foreign technical experts in signaling systems and some critical equipment necessary to conduct the integration activity and monitor the compliance of the project with Railway Safety International Standards.

“The signaling system is vital in railway operations to ensure safe and smooth train and traffic movement, controlled speed, accurate platform position, safe distance between trains, automatic stop in cases of technical breakdown and is designed in accordance with railway fail-safe principles,” it said.

The extension project aims to reduce the travel time between Manila and Antipolo from three hours to 40 minutes. 

It is expected to add 80,000 passengers to the current 240,000 daily ridership of the LRT-2, which currently connects Recto Avenue in Manila to Santolan station in Marikina. 

Mr. Berroya said the LRTA and the Department of Transportation (DoTr) had agreed that safety should be issued first before starting operations. 

“We at LRTA and DoTr are always committed to provide our passengers with a safe, reliable, and comfortable journey,” he added.

He also appealed for “understanding and cooperation” as the integration of the signaling system of the two new stations to the current system “will require a shutdown of… operations from Santolan to Recto for two consecutive weekends from June 26 to 27 and from July 3 to 4 for the smooth implementation of the activity.”

“For the meantime, LRT-2 full operations from Santolan to Recto and vice versa will resume on Wednesday, 23 June 2021 after the need to implement degraded operations from June 12 to 22,” the LRTA said. — Arjay L. Balinbin