January 2021 return set for LRT-2 stations shut by fire
The LRT-2 management said the fire was caused by the “tripping off” of rectifier substation 5 located at Katipunan Station.
The STAR/Miguel De Guzman, File

January 2021 return set for LRT-2 stations shut by fire

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - November 26, 2020 - 4:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — Three stations under repair along the Light Rail Transit-2 are slated to accept passengers in January 2021, although that schedule can yet again be pushed back as pandemic disruptions delayed repair in one of Metro Manila’s three train lines.

The goal however is to achieve a “bare minimum” restoration of damaged areas that will allow the train to safely pass through Anonas, Santolan and Katipunan stations while finishing touches are applied, Hernando Cabrera, spokesperson at Light Rail Transit Authority which operates the train, said.

“We still don't know what will happen there. January can become February...The full repair would take one year, but we cannot wait for one year,” he said in a phone interview.

It’s been 13 months since the train’s power rectifier tripped and caught fire in October 2019 that prompted the station closures. The fix was originally intended to last only for 9 months or until June this year but construction was halted last March when lockdowns were enforced to prevent coronavirus contagion.

On top of that, Cabrera said travel barriers meant delays in delivery of raw materials from abroad crucial to complete the repair, while another fire just last month added to the growing problems.

While the 13.8-kilometer train system had since been back in business when the economy reopened, LRT-2, similar with LRT-1 and Metro Rail Transit-3, is operating at 50% capacity following health protocols in social distancing. That capped the number of passengers per train set at 814.

From June to November, LRTA recorded an average of 28,000 to 29,000 passengers a day, a number expected to go up once the three closed stations accept passengers again. But since construction will continue even when stations are reopened, trains would have to run slower than they typically do as precaution.

“The moment your speed goes down, capacity is also affected...slower trains mean slower intervals at the stations,” Cabrera said.

“We’re asking for patience from our passengers. Our situation was confounded by this coronavirus pandemic, that's our big problem right now,” he said in Filipino.

That said, that LRT-2 is not operating across all its stations to date is only worsening dismal access to public transportation since transport authorities controlled their deployment and imposed caps on the number of passengers they can carry. The measures were meant to prevent congestion where coronavirus infections are feared to spread.

But observers say the limits are only compounding a long existing shortage in public transportation, which in turn triggers congestion. In Anonas, Katipunan and Santolan stations alone, AltMobility PH, a commuter group, estimated that 116,000 passengers pass through daily before the pandemic struck. This means that over half of the line’s estimated 200,000 daily passengers were affected by the shutdown. 

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