DOTC: Human error caused MRT mishap
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Investigators from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) saw “human error” arising from failure to follow procedure and overspeeding as causing a Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) train to overshoot the Taft Avenue station last Aug. 13.

Speaking to reporters, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the government is set to file administrative charges against the two train drivers, as well as two personnel from the control center, for gross neglect, inefficiency in the performance of official functions, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and violation of reasonable rules and regulations.

“Yes, that was the conclusion,” he said.

Transportation Undersecretary for Operations Edwin Lopez headed the investigation team.

Abaya cited poor coordination or reporting procedures between the train drivers and the control center supervisors.

Office Order No. 059 issued in October 2000 requires that a stalled train must be brought to the nearest station platform for passengers to be unloaded, he added.

Abaya said based on that order, the stalled train should have been towed to the Magallanes station instead of the Taft Ave. station.

The actual location of the distressed train was unknown to the control center supervisor, and coordination with the Magallanes station supervisor was not established, he added.

Investigations showed that only the driver of the assisting train performed the standard coupling and commenced hauling procedures even with no clear approval from the control center supervisor, Abaya said.

Under the procedure, both drivers of the assisting and distressed trains were supposed to perform the standard coupling procedure.

Abaya said the driver of the assisting train thought that both trains coupled when it rammed the distressed train.

However, the driver of the assisting train, upon seeing the warning lights in the train’s panel, disembarked and cranked the coupling mechanism, causing both trains to disengage and decouple, he added.

Abaya said the driver of the assisting train did not observe the 15-kilometer per hour speed limit and was running at about 40 kph.

“Based on the black box reading of assisting train, the driver went over the design speed,” he said.

Abaya said upon reaching the peak of the Magallanes station, the driver of the assisting train was surprised when he saw the distressed train disengage.

After the train disengaged, the driver of the distressed train possibly tried to apply the braking system, which did not work, prompting him to direct passengers to brace for impact, he added.

Abaya said both trains drivers and two control center supervisors face sanctions, including dismissal from service and forfeiture of benefits.

Both drivers are contractual employees.

Abaya said the government would monitor the strict observance of all safety and operational procedures and policies, including immediate evacuation of passengers to the nearest station to prevent a repeat of the incident.

The government would also prioritize the review and upgrade of all safety and operational procedures, particularly with regards to hauling or coupling procedure, passenger evacuation and communication procedure, he added.

Abaya said the 40 kph speed limit being implemented at the Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1) along Taft Ave. would also be adopted by the MRT-3 from the present speed limit of 50 kph. – With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero

ABAYA ASSISTING DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS DRIVER LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT MAGALLANES METRO RAIL TRANSIT OFFICE ORDER NO TAFT AVE TRAIN
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