By Emmie Abadilla
Reeling from years of poor and erratic maintenance, the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 is now undergoing a 43-month comprehensive rehabilitation being undertaken by Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan at a cost of P18 Billion.
The Japanese maintenance provider is overhauling all 72 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) of MRT-3, replacing all mainline tracks, rehabilitating power and overhead catenary systems, upgrading the signaling system, communications and CCTV systems, and repairing all of MRT-3’s escalators and elevators.
Through the project, the DOTr and the MRT-3 expect to raise the number of operating trains from 15 to 20 at peak hours, double the train operating speed from 30 to 60 kilometers per hour, and slash by half the headway or time between trains from 7-10 minutes to just 3.5 minutes.
Train capacity will also be doubled to 650,000 passengers
Just this October, one Dalian train set with three train coaches hit the tracks of its mainline, three years after
P500 Million worth of 48 Chinese-made trains had been gathering dust in its depot.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has also given its concurrence to the Dalian Trains Agreement with Sumitomo.
The necessary commissioning and validation tests – including a 150-hour run, have been completed on three Dalian trains with a total of 9 train coaches.
Each Dalian train set has a three-car configuration that can carry 1,050 passengers per trip.
Last month, MRT 3’s Japanese maintenance provider began replacing its rails.
The entire shipment of MRT 3’s brand new rails arrived at Harbour Centre Port Terminal in Manila this July.
The shipment arrived several months ahead of the scheduled date of delivery and is composed of 4,053 pieces of 18-meter rails that will replace all tracks along the MRT-3’s 17-kilometer mainline. The delivery had a total weight of 4,000 tonnes.
Nippon Steel Corporation manufactured the rails and shipped them out from Fukuoka, Japan, following the successful factory test which the Factory Acceptance Team (FAT) for rails conducted.
The degraded state of the rails is the root problems in the operation of the MRT3, according to Undersecretary
for Railways Timothy John Batan.
Excess vibration impairs the proper functioning of any mechanical and electrical equipment, causing MRT-3 train breakdowns in the past.
Hence, the new rails will make the trains run more smoothly, improving the reliability of the service.
Rail replacement works are being done at non-operating hours at night will and be completed by February 2021.
During the rehabilitation process, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) committed to keep 15 trains operating – the daily average.
Gradually, they will increase the number of operating trains during the 26-month overhaul so as not to inconvenience MRT 3’s 360,000 daily passengers. By the 26th month, MRT3 would have a maximum of 20 trains running at 60 km per hour.
“The MRT-3 Rehabilitation Project is on track and will be finished on July 2021,” according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.