How Dalian trains will (hopefully) alleviate MRT commute amid Christmas rush

December 20, 2018 - 2:38 PM
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Dalian Train at MRT Interaksyon
Picture of one of the CRRC Dalian Trains operating on the MRT tracks. (Department of Transportation Facebook photo)

A second Dalian train has been deployed for use in the Metro Rail Transit amid the Christmas rush in Metro Manila.

MRT-3 officials ordered the deployment of the second of the train sets purchased form Chinese firm CRRC Dalian on December 12 for 150-hour test runs.

It was first deployed from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from December 11 to 15 and will be running from 6 a.m. to 9 pm from December 16 to 23, according to the MRT-3 management.

The deployment of the first of the controversial trains was first approved in October 2018 and was only put in operation for limited hours after completion of the test runs.

The MRT-3 management has also approved the extension of operating hours to help commuters traverse Metro Manila, where traffic is expected to intensify in the days approaching Christmas day and the holiday break.

The Department of Transportation previously announced that it would try to increase the number of operational trains by the end of 2018 to 20. The number of operational trains in the MRT-3 usually range from 13 to 16 a day.

As the Dalian coaches still outnumber the older coaches, some social media users have commented on how riding the Dalian trains was a fresh sight during the MRT-3 commute.

Department of Transportation Undersecretary Timothy John Batan previously announced that management will soon begin rehabilitation of the MRT-3. Completion of the rehabilitation is targeted to wrap up by the first quarter of 2021.

Deployed before end of 2018

The 48 trains were purchased in 2014 during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III. However, calls to probe the P3.8 billion purchase delayed the trains’ deployment in the MRT-3, the busiest train line in the metropolis with more than 300,000 passengers daily.

Those calling for the probe found that the trains were incompatible with the tracks currently built into the MRT-3. Dalian responded by offering to pay for the cost of the trains’ adjustment, amidst calls to return the trains.

In July 2018, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade announced that the independent audit conducted by independent consultant TUV Rheinland on the Dalian transaction had been completed. He said that the results needed to be discussed with Dalian, as the audit found that there was insufficient compliance with the transaction’s terms of reference.

There were calls to make the findings of the audit and the negotiations with Dalian public, after the deployment of the first train was approved.

Only one Dalian train was allowed to be deployed for test runs so as to not risk passengers’ safety, Tugade explained.