Science and Environment

ERT may run on old Panay railway

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Electric Road Train (ERT) developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is being considered to run on the old, decommissioned rail line of the dormant Panay Railways.

A memorandum of understanding was signed among DOST Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), government-owned and controlled corporation Panay Railways Inc. and Philtrack Inc. for potential adoption of ERT technology for the PRI’s 115-kilometer alignment from Iloilo City to Roxas City, Capiz.

Under the MOU, Philtrack, headed by inventor-businessman Francis Yuseco, will embark on a study to draw up a master development plan for tapping the ERT to run on PRI’s alignment, reviving the Panay island GOCC that also owns vast real estate along the entire span of the rail line.

Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the DOST will provide the assistance needed by PRI and Philtrack.

“We welcome this serious interest shown by Philtrack and PRI on our Electric Road Train, and hope that this leads to the adoption of this mass transport technology developed by our very own engineers and researchers of the DOST,” Dela Peña told The STAR in an interview after the signing of the MOU on the third day of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City from July 17-21. 

Lawyer Averill Amor, board director and officer-in-charge of PRI, said they were also excited about the prospect of restarting operations using the ERT.

“Panay Railways can provide a dedicated lane for the Electric Road Train and let it run as it was designed by engineers of the DOST,” Amor said.

The PRI’s alignment was already clear of steel tracks as these had been removed and sold for scrap during the time of former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 

Yuseco said that Philtrack has formed a consortium that could implement the master plan they will come up with for the revival of the Panay Railways as an ERT line. Other members of the consortium are Leechiu Property Consultants Inc., Land Excel Consulting, Del Monte Motors and Micrologic Systems Inc.

“Our master development plan will also have a real estate development component,” Yuseco said.

Amor said that the PRI considers the Iloilo City to Roxas City alignment as Phase 1, while a Phase 2 expansion plan will extend it from Roxas City, Capiz to Caticlan in Aklan.

“The Iloilo City to Roxas City alignment, as well as the stations and other land along the line, we own that. For the Phase 2, we have to do some expropriation,” Amor said. 

Designed by Filipino engineers and made with locally available parts, the 40-meter long train-like bus is an alternative means of transportation touted by the DOST as a possible answer to the mass transport problems in the congested urban centers of the country such as Metro Manila and Cebu.

The ERT bus can serve 650,000 commuters. It is composed of five interconnected fully air-conditioned coaches, four of which can accommodate 60 passengers each for a total of 240 commuters per ride.

The ERT can run at a maximum speed of 60 kph. It is powered by a hybrid engine that runs on diesel fuel and electric battery.

The train is designed to be energy-efficient since it does not need electricity and cables to operate.

The ERT is expected to produce less smoke emission compared to existing mass transport vehicles, making it an eco-friendly mode of transport.


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