By Hanah Tabios and Roy Mabasa
Private operator LRT-1 Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) on Tuesday formally launched to the public the first of its Generation-4 (Gen-4) train sets which arrived in the country last January 18.
The unveiling ceremony was held at the Manila Harbor Center.
Japanese Ambassador to Manila Kazuhiko Koshikawa and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade led the welcome ceremony for the arrival of the eight trains that form part of the 120 new LRVs funded by the Government of Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with Japanese multinational Mitsubishi Corporation as the implementing contractor.
“I’m now eagerly awaiting the time I could get on these brand new trains on the Green Line with the young, the elderly, people of all ages enjoying a comfortable ride as much as I do,” Koshikawa said in his remarks.
As part of the “Capacity Enhancement of Mass Transit Systems in Metro Manila Project,” the JICA-led undertaking includes support for the expansion of both the LRT-1 and LRT-2.
The procurement of the new LRVs from Japan also entails the rehabilitation of existing facilities, construction of line extension, and expansion of current depots. The project aims to improve the capacity of the LRT and deliver a safer, more reliable, and punctual railway system to commuters in the capital.
The state-of-the-art passenger train sets measure 106 meters in length and 2.59 meters in width, with maximum design speeds of up to 70 kph. Each train set consists of four light rail vehicles (LRVs) and can accommodate over 1,300 passengers per trip.
The 4th Gen LRVs have destination signs to inform passengers if the trains are heading north or south. Inside, the driver station features a modern design. There is also a monitor that shows the temperature inside each LRV.
The new train set is PWD-friendly with special areas for wheelchairs.
According to LRMC, the planning and design of the 4th generation LRVs for LRT-1 began in 2018. Spanish railway vehicle company, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) started the production of 30 train sets in Spain and Mexico in 2019 through a tender spearheaded by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
“This project is starting to bear fruit and be a reality that all of us can be truly, truly proud of. Today, the trains are starting to come and every quarter they will come,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
The transportation chief noted that by May 2022, the Philippines will meet the delivery of 30 train sets.
“We will continue to make our commitment stronger than ever before that we are all mandated to make the Filipino life comfortable,” he added.
The train sets will arrive in batches, with at least 1 train set arriving every month until May 2022.
The trains will each have to undergo safety checks, inspections, and required test runs with minimum kilometers and acceptance tests before being deployed for revenue operations.
Koshikawa expressed his commitment to work closely with the Philippine government and reaffirmed Japan’s unswerving support with the Philippines all the way, as evident in the Build, Build, Build program of the current administration.
Koshikawa said the arrival of the new light rail vehicles for Metro Manila’s LRT Line-1 signals a “major uplift to its operations.”
“Previously, I served as an Ambassador to Spain, and I feel particularly upbeat about this Japan-Philippines-Spain trilateral cooperation. Our project contractor, Mitsubishi Corporation, is working double time for the rehabilitation of LRT-1, and CAF’s rolling stock will surely be a vital component,” the Japanese envoy said.