Light Rail Manila proposes express trains on LRT-1

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Passengers wait to board an LRT Line 1 train at Gil Puyat Station in this photo taken on September 2, 2014.

LIGHT RAIL Manila Corporation (LRMC) is studying the possibility of deploying express trains on the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) by December.

“We are now looking at how we can do express trains. This can significantly improve ridership, as well as [lessen] travel time,” LRMC Chief Executive Officer Rogelio L. Singson told reporters last week.

He said the company, which operates and maintains the LRT-1, will present the plan for express trains to the government. Express trains will reach a destination station without stopping at every station.

“We will present it to regulators and hopefully, they will see the value,” the former Public Works secretary said.

Mr. Singson said the proposed express trains will not require a fare increase, but noted there will be a need to properly orient the riding public once the proposal is approved.

Meanwhile, Mr. Singson said the bidding to procure new light rail vehicles (LRVs) for the LRT-1 may be able to proceed by November.

“The technical evaluation and financial obligations of the two competing bidders have been completed… The timetable for the notice to proceed is Nov. 15. Based on what we see on actual scheduling, we might be able to get the notice to proceed even earlier,” he said.

The two bidders are Mitsubishi Electric and a joint venture of Marubeni Corporation and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (Grupo CAF). Only Japanese-led companies or groups are allowed to bid since the project is being funded by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

In 2015, the then-Department of Transportation and Communications opened the bidding for the procurement of 120 LRVs for LRT-1, which currently runs from Roosevelt in Quezon City to Baclaran in Pasay City. A bidding was conducted in March 2016 but was declared failed due to the lack of bidders.

The new bidding was conducted by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) in April this year.

The procurement of LRVs aims to expand the capacity of LRT-1, with the upcoming Cavite extension that covers 11.8 kilometers and eight new stations.

Mr. Singson noted that the technical and financial proposals by the two competing bidders are already under the evaluation of the procurement service of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

An official of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said via text message confirmed the documents are “under evaluation” by the DBM’s Procurement Service Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

“We’re happy with the progress… At least it’s not a failed bidding anymore,” Mr. Singson said.

The LRMC CEO also noted the LRT depot expansion, a project also to be funded by a loan from JICA, cannot be awarded this year because of a government counterpart requirement which will be funded in the 2018 budget.

“The award of the component cannot be done until the 2018 GAA [General Appropriations Act] (is approved),” Mr. Singson said.

LRMC is a consortium of AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Metro Pacific Infrastructure Corp., and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. It has been in charge of operations and maintenance of LRT-1 since late 2015. The P64.9-billion public private partnership project also involves the 11.7-km. extension from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite.

Metro Pacific Investment Corp. is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp.

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