The transportation department may determine whether the 48 trains from Dalian, China—costing a whopping P3.8 billion—are “compatible” with the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 within the month, after an independent auditor finishes its evaluation of the light- rail vehicles that have been left idle and unutilized for more than a year now.
Aly V. Narvaez, a spokesman for the railway system’s operator, said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) hopes to receive the report from TUV Rheinland toward the end of May.
“We expect to receive the audit report in the next few weeks, perhaps within this month,” she said in a text message. “Once submitted, the complete and final audit report from TUV Rheinland will still be read and reviewed by DOTr.”
The government tapped TUV Rheinland to conduct a thorough review of the trains that were procured from Dalian, as issues ranging from weight to safety arose before, during, and after their complete delivery in February last year.
To recall, the Aquino administration jump-started the acquisition of 48 new train cars for the Edsa MRT 3 line. It faced several years of delay due to a legal tussle with the owner of the train facility, MRT Corp.’s parent company, MRT Holdings Inc.
Despite having received the first set of trains in early-2016, the deployment of the new coaches was deferred because all 48 light-rail vehicles had to be “optimized and tested.”
Onboard signaling was amiss from the train, and was only procured midway through the construction of the 48 train units.
The onboard signaling system was only installed in the trains in November 2016. The initial batch of trains should have been deployed in March of the same year, based on original targets.
Due to these obstacles, the transportation department wanted to deploy the 48 trains in March 2017, but failed to do so after groups raised issues on the train’s weight.
“We’ll release the results accordingly, including TUV’s recommendations on the Dalian trains,” Narvaez said.
The whole expansion project, amounting to P3.8 billion, will increase the capacity of the line to 880,000 daily passengers, or 66 percent more than the current capacity of 350,000 commuters per day.
Currently, the train line is working at about two-thirds of its capacity. There are about 15 train sets running during revenue hours, serving roughly 350,000 passengers daily.