By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT expects a boost in speed and number of train sets running for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) as it officially turned over the rehabilitation and maintenance of the train line to its original designers in a ceremony Tuesday night.
Japanese firms Sumitomo Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Sumitomo-MHI) together with TES Philippines, Inc. (TESP) started their official takeover of the MRT-3 rehabilitation and maintenance works on the eve of May 1, which continues the 24-month procedure it started in February.
Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan said the entry of the group is expected to improve the speed of the MRT-3 from the current 30 kilometers per hour (kph) to its optimal 60 to 65 kph. The number of train sets running on the line is also expected to rise from the average 15 at present to about 20 after the rehabilitation.
“Yung mga riles natin are in really bad condition. That’s why meron tayong speed restriction na 30 kph. Sa June, third week of June, ’yung team natin is going to go to Japan para doon sa factory acceptance ng mga bagong riles. So as early as July, the new rails will start coming in. So by the end of this year, we would have made significant progress sa riles,” he told reporters after the turnover ceremony at the MRT Depot in Quezon City.
“Currently we are operating 15 train sets. Ang target natin after the rehabilitation, which is after 24 months, is makabalik tayo ng 20 train sets during peak hours,” Mr. Batan added.
The governments of the Philippines and Japan signed the 43-month contract for the MRT-3’s rehabilitation last year, with a project cost of P16.985 billion payable for 40 years and with a 12-year grace period.
As for the Dalian trains, or the 48 MRT-3 trains procured during the previous administration, Mr. Batan said Sumitomo-MHI wants to do its own assessment of their usability on the MRT-3.
The Dalian trains were delayed from use due to issues in its compatibility with the MRT-3 system. Its manufacturer, Chinese firm CRRC Dalian Co., already agreed last year to make the necessary adjustments to make it usable on the MRT-3.
“Essentially they need to review the documentation, they need to look at the trains themselves para ma-assess nila ’yung maintenance requirements ng Dalian trains. But they have given us indication that they are open and willing (to use it),” Mr. Batan said on Sumitomo-MHI’s request to reevaluate on its own the Dalian trains.