MRTC backs DOTC plan to upgrade MRT-3
Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - October 5, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - An executive of the Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC) yesterday expressed support for the plan of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to upgrade and rehabilitate the MRT-3 system.

In a statement, Robert John Sobrepeña, chairman of Fil-Estate group – one of the shareholders of the Metro Rail Transit Holdings (MRTH II), the company that owns the MRTC – said the MRTC, either by itself or through related companies, has submitted proposals to the DOTC for the supply of additional trains as well as the upgrade of the mass transport system.

“MRTH II supports the effort of the government to upgrade and rehabilitate the MRT-3 system and bid out the maintenance contract to a technically and financially qualified contractor. However, it is our belief that it would be to the best interest of the MRT-3 system and the riding public that the single point of responsibility be reinstated by adding the rehabilitation and upgrading of the system to the contract of the maintenance contractor under a long-term agreement,” Sobrepeña said.

He said the implementation of all of these would ensure the safety of the public. Sobrepeña, however, cautioned the DOTC to only award the project to a “technically and financially qualified contractor.”

He added that the private owners of MRTC have always supported the proposed upgrade and purchase of additional trains for the MRT-3 system since 2002.

He said they have even made several proposals to the DOTC for the system’s upgrade.

Sobrepeña said the DOTC advised them that before any upgrade is made, a “triggering event” must happen to signal capacity expansion.

That triggering event was for MRT ridership to reach 350,000 passengers daily, the maximum ridership volume of the MRT-3’s existing 60 trains.

When the “triggering event” happened, Sobrepeña said the MRTC again renewed its upgrade offer but nothing happened as the DOTC merely created a technical committee to study their proposal.

In 2007, Sobrepeña said the MRTC again proposed to provide an additional 48 cars as part of the capacity expansion and upgrade of the MRT-3 system.

“It is unfortunate that the DOTC failed to act on any of the proposals, thereby losing the opportunity for government to reap the benefits of having additional trains and upgraded system,” Sobrepeña said.

He said the “DOTC proceeded, without any coordination and consultation with MRTC and in violation of existing agreements, bidded and purchased 48 Chinese trains. Thus, MRTH II, as owner of MRTC, was constrained to initiate arbitration to protect the MRT-3 system and to ensure public safety against any possible damage and accidents that might occur due to possible incompatibility issues of the Chinese trains.”

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