48 new MRT coaches remain unusable — DOTr
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Despite the recent technical problems hounding the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), the 48 new light rail vehicles (LRVs) purchased under the former administration would remain unusable for the next three years, an official said yesterday.

Cesar Chavez, assistant secretary for rails of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), said the 48 new LRVs from Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. of China would remain unusable because it has no signaling system device.

“That is the problem… even the signaling system would be upgraded, we could not use the 48 trains,” he said.

The signaling system maintains safe distances between trains and controls its speed.

The 48 LRVs were procured by the former administration for P3.8 billion as part of the MRT-3 capacity expansion project of former transport secretary Jun Abaya.

And even if the signaling system would be fixed, Chavez said they would still not use the LRVs as instructed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade if it has no “international independent party certificate.”

The MRT-3 has experienced several technical problems recently reportedly due to the summer heat and train lubricants said to be unsuitable for the tropical climate.

Chavez, however, said that the weather and the grease used for the trains have nothing to do with the mechanical problems of the MRT-3.

He said the maintenance service provider of MRT-3, the South Korea-Filipino joint venture of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMI Corp. Inc. and Castan Corp., was asked to explain the problem.

“The maintenance was low par. The checkup was substandard,” Chavez said in a radio interview.

Chavez said they are now targeting a four-car configuration of the MRT-3, or four units per train before the yearend.

He said they have already awarded the contract to a private firm for the enhancement power capacity of the MRT-3, which is expected to start by Nov. 15, 2017.

Chavez explained the enhancement power capacity would help the MRT-3 upgrade from the current three-car to four-car configuration.

The MRT-3 is running with 3,400 amperes on a three-car configuration, which means that the power capacity would be enhanced to 4,000 to 4,500 amperes to accommodate additional coaches.

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