DOTr takes steps to improve MRT operations

MANILA -- The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is eyeing procurement of spare parts vital for the rehabilitation of trains of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).

The department assured commuters it will implement various improvements on the railway system's operations by the second quarter of 2018.

The MRT management is looking to deliver the necessary spare parts for 30 to 60 days, with some having a lead time of up to six months.

We need to procure spare parts that will help address the causes of unloading incidents in the MRT system, DOTr OIC and Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in a press conference Wednesday.

Among the major causes of unloading incidents in the MRT are defects on the traction motor and signaling system, as well as door failure.

Currently, we are trying to meet the minimum requirement of 14 to 15 trains, as we are still waiting for the delivery of spare parts, the DOTr official explained.

MRT has experienced lesser breakdowns in its operations since the DOTr terminated its maintenance contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) due to its failure to perform its maintenance obligations and procure spare parts.

Data from the DOTr show that an average of 24 unloading incidents occurred in the MRT since a Maintenance Transition Team (MTT) took over last November 6, compared with 39 when BURI was still in charge of the maintenance operations.

The MRT management is also eyeing the deployment of 20 trains with four cars daily, with a headway of 3 minutes and running 60 kilometers per hour, to address rising passenger demand.

Meanwhile, the DOTr is looking into augmenting the number of point-to-point buses that will serve as an alternative mode of transportation for commuters.

We need to assure that the buses will be running fast in order for the MRT passengers to patronize them, said Batan.

DOTr said earlier the government of Japan had committed to provide financial assistance for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the MRT.

This follows the exchange of notes between the Philippines and Japan on obtaining Official Development Assistance (ODA) financing under the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) Special Terms for Economic Partnership.

JICA will conduct its feasibility study in January to February to assess what needs to be fixed in the MRT system.

Once this is completed, the signing of the loan agreement and procurement of the rehabilitation and maintenance provider will follow in March to April, with the mobilization of the Japanese provider expected within the second quarter of this year.

To improve the operations of the MRT, the DOTr has taken several steps, particularly, promoting accountability with the termination of BURI, ensuring continued service delivery by establishing the MTT and purchasing needed spare parts, contracting a rehabilitation and maintenance service provider together with an ODA partner, and putting in place a long-term maintenance and operator provider for MRT 3.

Source: Philippine News Agency