Expect more MRT problems

By , on September 8, 2014

MRT3 Shaw Boulevard Station (Photo courtesy of UrbanRail)
MRT3 Shaw Boulevard Station (Photo courtesy of UrbanRail)

MANILA — A local government unit representative warned the pubic to brace for more breakdowns and accidents related to the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) given that proposed improvements will take years to complete.

According to Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, the new trains for the MRT-3 are set to arrive in 2016, while the new MRT-7 will be completed by 2018.

In the meantime, the Deparment of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) short-term solution to the public’s woes regarding the MRT is to purchase coaches from CNR Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. Ltd., something that the MRT Holdings (MRTH) is against. According to the MRTH the said suppliers do not have sufficient experience in such equipment which may lead to more problems.

MRTH owns the MRT, while Autre Porte Technique Global Inc. (APT Global) is the one responsible for maintaining the train system.

“The solution to the safety issue is to get a qualified maintenance provider that is financially and technically capable,” said MRTH spokesman David Narvasa regarding the upgrade as an immediate solution.

Meanwhile, president and chief executive officer of Comm Builders and Technology (CB&T) Philippines, said that the breakdowns of the MRT-3 does not come as a surprise given that the trains are already exhausted beyond their 1.5 million-kilometer life span.

“We have warned against many deteriorating parts and obsolete spare parts of the various systems,” Bacar said. “The traction motors of the MRT are now beyond 1.6, 1.7 million,” he added.

He noted that the glitch that halted the operations of the MRT last August 23 is already a sign of deterioration. Bacar added that the breakdowns are caused by worn out traction motors.

“It was one of the findings in our system audit that we conducted when we assumed as interim maintenance contractor. We’re now in the third quarter of 2014, so the traction motor has logged in hundreds of thousands of kilometers more. It’s really no wonder that we’re having all these trains stalling incidents,” he said.

Bacar said that the MRT’s aging systems are in dire need of actual upgrades given that the transport system was not maintained well by its former sub-contractor Sumitomo-TES Philippines from 1999 to 2012.

On the other hand, a group of consumers yesterday called the government’s attention to look into long-term and lasting solutions to the MRT-related problems.

According to the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers (NCFC), the “MRT challenge” of the government officials is not the proper solution to determine the problems of the train system.