InterAksyon, 10 October 2014

By Darwin G. Amojelar

MANILA – Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the management of MRT3 hasn’t endorsed a shutdown of its operations despite a series of breakdowns in recent weeks.

“There is no recommendation from MRT3 to shutdown operations for any reason,” Abaya told in a text message.

In an interview aired on News5 on Wednesday, MRT3 officer-in-charge Renato Z. San Jose said train operations may shut down if more steel bars of the railroad track get broken.

Last Tuesday morning, operations from North Avenue to Shaw Boulevard and vice versa were suspended for about an hour due to a broken rail in the northbound area between Santolan and Ortigas stations.

According to records obtained by News5, six of the 16.9-kilometer rapid transit system needs to be replaced immediately because it is already old and defective. However, the rail stocks are not adequate to replace all the faulty steel bars.

The number of stock rails for the MRT3 has gone down to 2.5 pieces from 29 pieces last year.

Hernando Cabrera, spokesperson of MRT3, said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) asked the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) to lend spare rails to MRT3 to avert a shutdown.

The government has extended Autre Porte Technique Global Inc’s (APT Global) maintenance contract, which expired last month.

Last August 13, a southbound train of the MRT3 crashed through the barrier of the Pasay terminal, hurting at least 38 people. DOTC found that the accident was caused by its personnel’s negligence.

The government operates MRT3 under a build-lease-transfer contract with Metro Rail Transit Corp (MRTC), which is majority owned by privately-held MRT II Holdings.

MRT3 runs from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, serving nearly 500,000 passengers per day, or way beyond its rated capacity of about 350,000. The rail system has a fleet of 73 Czech-made rail cars, of which up to 60 three-car trains operate daily.

The trains run at a maximum speed of 65 kilometers per hour to cover the rail system’s 13 stations in about 30 minutes, including short dwell times of about 25-35 seconds in each station.