MRT-3 to run twice as fast

With original contractor Sumitomo of Japan handling the rehabilitation of Metro Rail Transit 3, commuters expect that experts will address the many technical issues that have led to frequent breakdowns. FILE PHOTO

Return the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) in 26 months to its former efficient and reliable status. That’s the pledge made yesterday by Department of Transportation (DoTr) Undersecretary for Railways John Batan on behalf of Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Batan issued the statement a day after the governments of the Philippines and Japan signed a deal with the latter extending an P18-billion loan intended for the rehabilitation of MRT-3 operations.

“After 26 months, we can feel the effects of the restoration of the MRT to its original condition,” said Batan in a radio interview, picturing an MRT system that is fast, reliable and safe.

He said the MRT-3 is presently running at 30 kilometers per hour (kph) and they are now targeting a top speed of 60kph after the rehabilitation.

“Our current headway or the gap between trains is seven to 10 minutes, but we will reduce it to at least 3.5 minutes,” Batan explained.

“We are also looking into increasing the train sets from 15 trains to 20,” he added.

The MRT-3 rehabilitation project covers the system’s electromechanical components, power supply, rail tracks, depot equipment and overhaul of its 72 18-year old Light Rail Vehicles. The project will run until 2022.

Based on the records of DoTr, at least 350,000 people ride the MRT-3 daily, a number expected to increase once the rehabilitation is completed.

Batan explained that the increase in train capacity would start after the first seven to nine months of rehabilitation.

MRT-3’s original maintenance provider Sumitomo was tapped for the project, according to Batan, who assured the public that fare hike will not be discussed until the rehabilitation is completed.

Also signed recently was Japan’s grant of P5 billion worth of spare parts and maintenance equipment for the UH-1H helicopters of the Philippine Air Force.

The Vietnam War-vintage helicopters are the workhorse of the Air Force for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, personnel transport and intelligence gathering.

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