With the mass testing of all railway personnel ongoing, the four railway lines in the country will operate on a “limited scale,” dispatching fewer trains due to lower personnel capacity.
Officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Sunday that while the capacity per train set will remain at a maximum of 30 percent, the number of trains for all railway lines will be reduced starting Monday.
“Due to the increase in the number of cases of Covid-19, our response at the DOTr is to implement mass testing in all railway ops,” Transportation Undersecretary Timothy Batan said. “The capacity will remain, but what is different is the number of trains dispatched depending on the number of available personnel.”
From 24 train sets before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 will operate with only 17 trains. The LRT Line 2 will retain its 5 trains, but it may be scaled down “depending on personnel availability.”
For the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, a maximum of 10 trains will be operational, more than half of its 23-train max capacity before the ECQ in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus bubble.
The Philippine National Railways, which will resume operations on Friday, will have at most 10 trains operational, just 2 train sets less than its maximum pre-ECQ operations.
The government started the mass testing of all railway personnel on March 29.
“We should not compromise the health, safety, and security of the traveling public and our working people. That is a non-negotiable position,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
Batan noted that to augment the capacity of the train lines, the government will dispatch buses that run on certain routes.
“To serve authorized persons outside of their residences or APOR, we are working with the road sector to provide bus augmentation and modern jeepney augmentation for affected railway routes,” he said.
Tugade also reminded commuters to follow the stringent health protocols that are being enforced in all railway lines to help curb the spread of Covid-19. These include the wearing of protective gears, frequent disinfection, and the avoidance of eating, talking and making phone calls in public transport terminals and vehicles.