MRT-3 fields record-high 21 trains after two decades

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
MRT-3 fields record-high 21 trains after two decades
MRT-3 commuters at North Ave. station observe the reduced physical distancing protocol by the Department of Transportation on Sept. 14, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time in 20 years, the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 is deploying a record-high 21 train sets as transportation officials seek to boost the capacity of public transportation, the agency disclosed Thursday. 

According to a 2012 assessment of the Philippine transport sector by the Asian Development Bank, the rail line, which runs from Quezon City to Pasay City, carried at the time more than 400,000 passengers daily, a far cry from its peak of over 500,000 from nearly a decade before.

"This allows the MRT-3 to shorten the waiting time interval between trains, and enables the rail line to increase its passenger capacity," the department said in a statement issued Thursday morning. 

This came after the Palace announced that the earlier DOTr policy of reducing the required physical distancing in public utility vehicles from one meter to 0.75 meters would be revoked for the time being to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the matter himself.

His decision is expected to come on Monday, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. 

The department also pointed out in its statement that the MRT-3 recorded no unloading incident since the resumption of public transportation during the imposition of general community quarantine in June, while he last unloading incident prior to the enforcement of community quarantines was recorded on March 8, a little over a week before the first enhanced community quarantine was imposed. 

MRT-3 car specifications sent by the Department of Transportation to Philstar.com show that the cars that still plow through the MRT-3 line today have been in use since 1996. Due to the worn-out set of tracks, the trains today run at their listed minimum of 30-40 kilometers per hour, a far cry, too, from their maximum possible speed of 65 kilometers an hour. 

The announcement also comes as the latest in the ongoing rehabilitation and maintenance works on the light rail vehicles and rail replacement being carried out by the Japan-based Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy, whose completion is expected by July 2021.

According to the department, health and safety protocols are still being strictly observed inside the train such as observing appropriate physical distancing, wearing of face shield and face mask, and prohibitions on eating and talking on any digital device. 

"Our maximum capacity of trains running on the mainline was just 21 trains before. The maximum capacity of the mainline now is 21 trainsets. But target is up to 24 trainsets," transportation spokesperson Goddes Libiran said in Filipino in a text message sent to reporters. 

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