Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa boarded the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) for the first time as part of his site visit of Japan-funded railway projects.
Joined by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and other officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Koshikawa rode an overhauled train from Ayala station to North Avenue station in Quezon City before inspecting the MRT-3 depot.
The DOTr said the train ride was for the ambassador to experience the faster train speed of 60 kilometers per hour and other improvements brought about by the massive rehabilitation project funded and technically-supported by Japan.
During the envoy’s visit, Tugade praised and thanked Japan-based Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the MRT-3’s maintenance service provider, for its performance in the rehabilitation of the railway.
Under the rehabilitation project, Sumitomo-MHI was tasked to undertake the overhaul of all 72 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) of the MRT-3, replace all mainline tracks, rehabilitate power and overhead catenary systems, upgrade the signaling system, communications and CCTV systems, and repair all of its escalators and elevators, among other system repairs and improvements.
This was also able to improve the running speed of the MRT-3 to 60 kph in December last year, cutting the average time between trains to only 3.5 to 4 minutes from the previous 8 to 9.5 minutes.
With this, travel time from North Avenue to Taft Avenue station was also shortened from an hour and 15 minutes to an average of only 45 to 50 minutes.
Aside from the train ride and depot visit, the officials also inspected the storage warehouse which Tugade described as “far, way too different” from before the time Sumitomo-MHI assumed as the line’s maintenance contractor.
They also checked the rolling stock section where the overhauling of trains takes place.
Also present who joined the visit were First Secretary, Transport Economic Affairs of the Embassy of Japan Sadaharu Hori; Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Senior Representative Kiyo Kawabuchi; and officials of the Sumitomo-MHI-TESP.
Other DOTr officials who joined the commute and ocular inspection were Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, Chief-of-Staff and Assistant Secretary for procurement and project implementation Giovanni Lopez, Assistant Secretary for Railways Fidel Cruz, Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Projects Eymard Eje, MRT-3 General Manager Rodolfo Garcia, Director for Operations Michael Capati, and PNR General Manager Junn Magno.