MRT runs with doors open

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) officials bared yesterday that operations of the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) were again disrupted on Tuesday when the train doors opened in two separate incidents while the trains were cruising along the tracks on EDSA.

Hernando Cabrera, Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and MRT-3 spokesman, said the incident happened Tuesday afternoon when the doors of a northbound train suddenly opened between Taft and Magallanes stations at around 1:20 p.m.

The train automatically stopped and the driver had to manually close the doors.

However, the doors again malfunctioned and opened, prompting the operator to stop at the Magallanes station in Makati and unload all passengers.

Cabrera said the doors of another MRT-3 train suddenly opened at about 8:40 p.m. while traveling from Boni station to the Guadalupe station.

“We will have this investigated,” Cabrera said.


DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya appointed yesterday a new officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Metro Rail Transit line 3 amid the series of breakdowns of the mass transit system along EDSA.

Abaya told reporters that MRT-3 director for operations Renato San Jose was appointed OIC, replacing Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) administrator Honorio Chaneco, who would focus on operations of Light Rail Transit lines 1 and 2 (LRT 1 and 2).

He pointed out that Chaneco has been burdened serving both the LRTA and MRT-3 since he had to sign at least 700 documents a day.

Chaneco was appointed OIC of MRT-3 after MRT-3 general manager Al Vitangcol was relieved of his duties last May 26 over accusations that he led a group that tried to extort $30 million from train maker Inekon Group of the Czech Republic.

Abaya pointed out that San Jose could focus on the day-to-day operations of the mass transit system that has been experiencing nearly daily breakdowns after a freak accident that injured about 36 passengers last Aug. 13.

Since the accident on Aug. 13, the DOTC decided to limit train speed to 40 kilometers per hour from the current 55 to 60 kph.

A defective train of the MRT-3 rammed through a concrete barrier of the terminal in Pasay City then jumped off track and stopped at the busy intersection of Taft Ave. and EDSA, injuring at least 34 passengers and damaging several vehicles.

The DOTC is in the process of initiating administrative charges against two train operators and two control center supervisors involved in the mishap.

Abaya said the agency would continue to pursue the rehabilitation of the mass transit system along EDSA through several projects.

Abaya pointed out that the 48 trains to be supplied by CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock of China under a P3.8-billion contract are scheduled to arrive starting next year.

He added that the agency is also upgrading the signaling and power systems at the MRT and is now bidding a P836.5-million contract to upgrade ancillary systems.

Furthermore, he said the agency is bidding out a three-year maintenance contract worth P2.25 billion for the aging MRT-3.

The one-year maintenance contract of Autre Potre Technique Global Inc. (APT) is set to expire on Sept. 5.

The 16.9-kilometer mass transit system along EDSA was constructed as part of an integrated strategy to alleviate traffic congestion along EDSA. The rail system had a fleet of 73 modern and air-conditioned rail cars built by CKD Doprovni System of Prague in the Czech Republic.

It was completed in July 2000 with a design capacity of 350,000 passengers a day, but it now services around 540,000 per day or about 55 percent over capacity.

MRT-3 private owners

Abaya said the MRT Corp. (MRTC), private owners of the MRT-3, has the responsibility to maintain the system.

“Maintenance is the responsibility of MRT Corp. I think they continue to warranty the system,” he told the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab.

“However, given the irregular situation now, we are doing our best to perform,” he said.

“They continue to own the facility, the responsibility of the government is to operate. The responsibility to procure a maintenance provider is MRTC’s; however, the government pays. That in itself is very questionable,” he said.

MRTC was reportedly formed by the Sobrepeñas of College Assurance Plan. CAP has been experiencing financial difficulties and is under rehabilitation.

MRTC built the mass transit system and owns its facilities. The government in turn leases and pays rent to operate the system.– With Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero

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