PH, Japan to sign loan deal for MRT rehab next week

MANILA -- The governments of the Philippines and Japan will sign a loan agreement for the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) on November 7, a Department of Transportation (DOTr) official said Wednesday.

“We have finalized the signing of the exchange of notes and the loan agreement. Both governments agreed that this will be on November 7,” DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in a press briefing.

The signing will pave way for the entry of Japanese firm Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the new maintenance provider of the MRT-3.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has offered to provide a loan amounting to 38 billion yen or PHP18 billion for the MRT maintenance and rehabilitation.

The Japanese maintenance provider has deployed its engineering teams as early as Oct. 15 to inspect the facilities of MRT that are needed to be fixed to expedite the rehabilitation process.

“They are looking on the condition of the MRT subcomponents so that once the exchange of notes, loan agreement and contract are signed. They will hit the ground running. This complies with the agreement of DOTr Secretary (Arthur) Tugade and the government of Japan to fast-track the MRT rehabilitation,” Batan said.

Last August, the National Economic and Development Authority Board’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee has approved the PHP22.061-billion MRT maintenance project.

The rehabilitation is expected to increase the number of train sets in operation from 15 to 18 train sets per hour, increase the maximum speed to 60 kilometers per hour and decrease headway to 200 seconds.

Meanwhile, the MRT-3 has started last weekend its gradual deployment of trains purchased from CCRC Dalian with one train set consisting of three train cars.

The DOTr targets the Dalian trains to be initially deployed for 150 hours during off-peak hours and weekends to test their reliability and performance on the MRT revenue line.

The 48 Dalian light rail vehicles (LRVs) were delivered in 2016 but were not deployed to the MRT line due to compatibility issues.

Supplier CCRC Dalian eventually agreed to absorb the costs for adjustments of the trains.

The other 45 LRVs are currently undergoing a battery of tests and validations before they will be deployed to the MRT system.

The screening process of the trains consists of a 1,000-kilometer test run; and functionality test to examine its features like its doors, lighting, braking system, among others; examination by German company TUV Rheinland and Japanese firm Toshiba Infrastructure Systems; and a validation by the Philippine National Railways.

To date, a total of 14 trains have completed the 1,000-kilometer test run. (PNA)

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