Saturday’s operations starting from 12 noon were suspended up until its last train service for the day due to the failure of the line’s communication system, which is crucial for the constant communication between the train drivers and control center operators, MRT Spokesman Hernando T. Cabrera said.
Cabrera said the absence of the system compromised passenger safety.
This forced the management to stop the operations for the day, according to Cabrera.
The MRT operator wanted to restore train services by 5 p.m. on Saturday, but repairs were not done up until early Sunday.
“We have traced the problem with the transmitter in Shaw Boulevard Station. It was down. The technology that we are currently using is already outmodeled. We’re still using an analog transmitter, which is already 15 years old,” Cabrera said in a phone interview.
Operations were back to normal by Sunday morning.
The official noted that initial results of the review for the incident were pointing at one thing: poor maintenance.
“We have conducted an assessment on the matter and initial indications show that this is a maintenance issue,” he admitted.
Autre Porte Technique Global Inc. (APT Global) currently holds the contract for the upkeep of the railway line. The contract will expire on September 5. The government now plans to auction off within the next few weeks the maintenance contract of the train system, extending the concession period from one year to three years to ensure that the upkeep of the system is constant, Cabrera said.
Tagged as most congested railway line in the Philippines, the MRT Line 3 has been subject to criticisms by rail experts and the commuting public.
It has been involved in many accidents and system failures. Earlier this month an MRT train car rammed against a concrete barrier at the southernmost station in Pasay City, leaving dozens injured.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya blamed the two train drivers and the two control center men for the line’s worst accident ever since the train’s construction 15 years ago.
He said the four employees—the drivers being contractual workers—will be charged with administrative cases and could face dismissal and a revocation of retirement benefits.
MRT Line 3 has a rated capacity of only 350,000 passengers a day, but is servicing an average of 500,000 commuters daily. It operates a fleet of 73 light rail vehicles which run at a maximum speed of 65 kilometers per hour to cover the rail system’s 13 stations in about 30 minutes.
After 10 years of being congested, the railway line has not yet seen improvements from the government and private concessionaire that owns the assets of the railway line.
Lorenz S. Marasigan