The Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Saturday started the gradual deployment of new trains from CRRC Dalian in the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) in what could be considered a major milestone in the operations of the EDSA train service.
The deployment comes after an extensive, rigorous and multilevel audit, assessment, adjustment and validation of the 48 Dalian trains that were delivered between September 2015 to January 2017. The Independent Safety Audit and Assessment was conducted by TUV Rheinland, an ISO 17020 and 17025-certified German company.
The audit addressed issues on the trains’ weight, signaling and maintenance equipment compatibility. DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade himself asked CRRC Dalian officials to address these concerns and make the necessary adjustments at no cost to the government.
As CRRC Dalian started working on the adjustments in July 2018, Japanese company Toshiba Infrastructure Systems supervised and assessed the process to ensure that they addressed the open observations of TUV Rheinland.
An MRT-3 advisory panel consisting of railway specialists from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australia Aid, and local experts from the Philippine National Railways (PNR) also participated in the evaluation and validation.
“Napakarami po nating ginawa na patung-patong na assessment para masiguro na ligtas na gamitin ang mga tren. Lahat ng kailangan i-address ay ginawa po at zero cost to government. Wala po tayong ginastos ni singkong duling. ‘Yung results ng audit and assessment, pina-assess natin para masiguradong natugunan nga ang mga observations. Pagkatapos, meron pang validation. Lahat po ‘yan ginawa natin para masiguro na safe at tugma ang mga tren sa MRT-3,” said DoTr Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan.
(We did so many overlapping assessment to ensure that the train is safe to use. All concerns were addressed at zero cost to government. We did not spend any cent. The results of the audit and assessment were also assessed to ensure that observations were addressed. Afterwhich, there was validation. All of these were done to ensure that the trains are safe and compatible with the MRT-3.)
Out of 48 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs), three LRVs equivalent to one train set have been deployed for passenger service after assessment and validation. The other LRVs are undergoing the assessment and validation procedures and will be gradually deployed once cleared.
This development comes at the heels of mobilizing Sumitomo and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as the rehabilitation and maintenance service provider of the 18-year old MRT-3. Starting last 15 October, a contingent of Sumitomo and MHI engineers have been in the MRT-3 depot daily for advance transition works.
“Ang problema natin sa MRT-3 ay hindi lang ang kakulangan ng tren, na takdang tugunan ng dagdag na Dalian trains. May problema rin sa lumang mga tren, sa riles, sa lumang signaling, at sa kung anu-ano pa. Marami pa pong dapat ayusin. Kaya naman ang kinuha nating single-point-of-responsibility na service provider ay ‘yung orihinal na nag-design at nag-construct ng MRT-3,” added Batan.
(Our problem with the MRT-3 is not only the lack of trains that will be addressed by the additional Dalian trains. There are also the problem of old trains, rail tracks, signaling, etc. There are still many things to be fixed. That is why we took as service provider with single-point-of-responsibility the original designed and builder of the MRT-3.)
The Exchange of Notes and Loan Agreement between the Philippines and Japan will be signed in early November, ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Philippines-Japan High Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure and Economic Development in Manila in mid-November.
Batan also said that apart from an improved and rehabilitated MRT-3, Filipinos can also look forward to other railway projects all over the country.
“Ang MRT-3 ay 17 kilometers lamang. Ang tinatayo po natin ngayon ay nasa higit 1,500 kilometro ng bagong mga railway system mula Luzon hanggang Mindanao, at karamihan po niyan ay matatapos ng 2022,” he said.
(The MRT-3 is only 17 kilometers. What we are building now is more than 1,500 kilometers of new railway system from Luzon to Mindanao and most will be completed in 2022.)
For his part, Tugade assured Filipino commuters that the government has been working double time to fast-track improvements and infrastructure projects.
“Ang bilin ni Presidente Duterte, magbigay ng comfortable life for all, at iyan po ang ginagawa at patuloy na gagawin natin,” Tugade said.
(The instruction of President Duterte is to give a comfortable life for all and that is what we are doing and will continue to do.)