The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is maintaining 70 percent passenger capacity in all rail lines while enforcing health protocols onboard trains, stations and depots as Alert Level 3 takes effect in the National Capital Region (NCR) today, Monday, Jan. 3, after a new pandemic surge.
As part of the heightened implementation of health measures in all rail lines, a random antigen testing of consenting and volunteering passengers will also be done.
“As recommended by our railways sector, all rail lines will maintain the present 70 percent passenger capacity under the Alert Level 3 status, provided that strict health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be enforced,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade announced.
“This is to avoid the ‘bottlenecking’ or crowding of passengers at stations, which may increase the risk of virus transmission,” he noted.
Any adjustments or changes in the passenger capacity of rail lines, as well as in other modes of public transportation, will be subject to the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Meanwhile, the random antigen testing will help the DOTr gauge the level of COVID-19 presence in the rail lines, according to DOTr Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan.
“The random antigen testing of consenting and volunteering passengers is intended to guide us in the adoption of any further needed measures,” he explained.
“Passengers who volunteer to be tested will be permitted to proceed with their trip after testing, and will be informed of their test results by text message.”
Aside from the random antigen testing of passengers, DOTr will optimize the use of train marshals to enforce health protocols inside trains and in stations.
“Deployed train marshals will make sure that all passengers will be wearing face masks, and will not talk, eat or make use of mobile phones while inside trains,” says Usec. Batan.
“In addition, the deployed train marshals will also enforce the physical distancing rule inside trains, where applicable, considering the current passenger capacity. However, physical distancing will be strictly enforced in station platforms and in station premises.”
Secretary Tugade also ordered the regular disinfection of trains, platforms, stations and depots plus contact tracing measures.
To ensure the safety of all rail facilities, the DOTr has required all rail personnel to undergo antigen testing, pursuant to prevailing protocols of the Department of Health.
Physical reporting in offices of rail lines personnel will be limited to 60 percent in compliance with Alert Level 3 guidelines, which prescribe at least 30 percent
The DOTr Rail Sector will also coordinate with its contractors and consultants on similar enhanced measures to be implemented for constructions workers and other personnel deployed at its various Rail Projects.
Secretary Tugade likewise ordered the Rail Sector to verify the vaccination and booster status of all rail personnel. He also ordered that booster shots be given to rail personnel to increase operational resilience.