The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has deferred the inauguration of its Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) East Extension due to the effects of the persisting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement on Friday, April 16, the DOTr said it decided to reset the inauguration to June 23 from April 26 “following recent developments in the country’s COVID-19 situation despite the project already being substantially complete.”
Instead of a formal inauguration, an operational trial run will be conducted on April 26.
“As much as we would like to open the project earlier, kailangan pong unahin ang kalusugan at kapakanan ng ating mga rail workers at mananakay (we need to prioritize the health and welfare of our rail workers and passengers),” DOTr Usec. for Railways TJ Batan said.
“Excited po tayo na makitang matatapos na itong long-delayed na proyekto na nagumpisa pa nuong 2012, pero mahalaga din po na lahat tayo ay ligtas, malusog, at higit sa lahat, buhay (We are excited to see the completion of this long-delayed project that started in 2012, but it is also important that we are all safe, healthy, and above all, alive),” he added.
The DOTr official also shared that foreign rail experts who were supposed to be present during the final stages of installation, testing, and commissioning works for the project have been unable to report for work or enter the Philippines because of the stringent restrictions being enforced.
Some 273 out of the 1,906 personnel of LRT-2 have been infected with COVID-19, forcing the rail line to reduce its operating hours beginning Saturday, April 17.
According to the DOTr, the LRT-2 East Extension project has an overall progress rate of 96.51 percent.
The final stages of the project were affected by recent COVID-related restrictions. These are expected to be completed before the inauguration.
The East Extension project intends to add four kilometers to the 13.8-kilometer LRT-2 train line, which currently runs from Recto Avenue in Manila to Santolan station in Marikina. This will be done through the opening of two new stations–the Emerald station, also in Marikina and Masinag station at the Masinag Junction in Antipolo City
Once completed, travel time from Recto to Masinag is expected to significantly drop to about 40 minutes from the usual three hours via bus or jeepney.