MRT-3 rehab underway with return of Sumitomo

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
MRT-3 rehab underway with return of Sumitomo
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday evening officially handed over the overall rehabilitation and maintenance works of the MRT-3 back to the group of Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-TES Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines — Efforts to improve the MRT-3 rail system are underway with the return of its original maintenance provider, which seeks to increase the number of operating trains and speed up operations in the system within the next two years.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday evening officially handed over the overall rehabilitation and maintenance works of the MRT-3 back to the group of Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-TES Philippines.

The rehabilitation works are slated for completion within the first 24 months of the 43-month rehabilitation and maintenance contract signed in Dec. 28 last year, Transport Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said.

During the 24-month rehabilitation period which began in February, Batan said MRT-3 targets to increase the number of its operating trains from 15 to 20, double the train operating speed to 60 to 65 kilometers per hour, and slash by half the travel time between trains from the current seven to 10 minutes to 3.5 minutes.

“So as we move along the rehab program, the availability of trains sets and speed will gradually increase,” Batan said.

“Our objective in MRT-3 is to repair, restore and rehabilitate at the fastest possible time. And our assessment for that is by tapping the designer, the original builder and the maintenance provider of the MRT-3 for the first 12 years. That would be the fastest way to do the rehab,” he added.

MRT-3 is set undergo rehabilitation and maintenance on its electromechanical components, power supply system, rail tracks, depot equipment, elevators and escalators at all stations, as well as the overhaul of 72 light rail vehicles (LRVs).

Batan said the DOTr team is slated to go to Japan by the third week of June for the factory acceptance of the new rails.

“So as early as July, the new rails will start coming in so by the end of the year, we would have made significant progress in terms of the rails. Currently our rails are really in bad condition that’s why we have speed restriction of 30 kilometers per hour,” he said.

“Rehab and maintenance is really needed because the system is really damaged. It’s almost impossible to maintain if the core asset that is needed to be maintained is damaged. That’s why there is an initial 24-month period to restore to designed capacity,” Batan added.

MRT-3, which covers North Avenue station in Quezon City until the Taft Avenue station in Pasay City, started operating in 2000 and the first round of general overhaul was completed by Sumitomo in 2008.

The second round of overhaul was supposed to have been completed in 2016, but with the termination of Busan Universal Rail Inc. in November 2017, only three of the 43 trains that was covered by its contract were overhauled.

Batan said there are no plans to buy additional trains for the MRT-3 system which currently has 120 trains composed of 72 first generation trains and 48 Dalian trains.

“That is right about the number we need to get for an expanded capacity,” he said.

The transportation official said Sumitomo has also requested to do some more detailed investigation on the Dalian trains before deploying them in the MRT-3 system.

“Essentially, they need to review the documentation and look at the trains themselves to assess the maintenance requirements of the Dalian trains,” he said.

Incompatibility concerns were earlier raised with the 48 China-made Dalian trains procured by the previous administration for P3.8 billion after they exceeded the weight prescribed in the terms of reference (49,700 kilograms vs. 46,300 kilograms).

Following an independent audit conducted by German firm TUV Rheinland, the DOTr said the Dalian trains can still be used if the adjustments identified in the audit are addressed “without sacrificing the safety, the security, and life of the passengers and the system.”



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