DOTr’s MRT-3 auditor to decide on fate of 48 Dalian trains » Manila Bulletin Business

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An Independent Audit and Assessment (IAA) Consultant, which the Department of Transportation Metro Rail Transit-3 (DOTr MRT-3) procured, will evaluate and recommend what to do with the railway’s 48 cars or Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) delivered by CRRC Dalian.

The consultant, TUV Rheinland, a German firm established in 1872, said the trains met the qualifications set by the DOTr for MRT3.

Chinese technicians assemble one part of the newly aquired Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 coach prototype at MRT Depot in Quezon City. (MB photo by Camille Ante)

Chinese technicians assemble one part of the newly aquired Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 coach prototype at MRT Depot in Quezon City. (MB photo by Camille Ante)

The company is ISO 17020 and ISO 17065 certified aside from being a member of the International Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA).

Other similarly qualified firms that vied for the IAA consultancy include TUV SUD and Bureau Veritas.

This January 3, the first working day of 2018, the DOTr MRT-3 Team met with TUV Rheinland, according to DOTr OIC Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan.

“Dalian has delivered the LRVs but we can’t accept them until our IAA Consultant has certified their safety and compatibility with our system,” he explained when asked whether the 48 LRVs will be used.

However, the DOTr has assured the IAA that they will not interfere or influence their assessment of the 48 LRVs.

TUV Rheinland will recommend whether the LRVs can be used immediately, whether they still need to have adjustments, or if they need to be returned.

Earlier, the 48 LRVs procured by the previous administration for R3.8 billion exceeded the weight prescribed in the Terms of Reference (49,700-kg vs. 46,300-kg) of the rail system, causing concern.

Compatibility with the MRT-3’s maintenance facilities and signaling system also became an issue.

With the current fleet of Czech-made trains, MRT-3 can operate up to 20 3-car trains. If the 48 LRVs are cleared to run, that can be increased to 20 four-car trains.

“The original design capacity of the MRT-3 at peak hours is 20 three-car trains, running at 60-kilometers per hour (kph), with a 3-minute headway, which means that every three minutes, a 3-car train should arrive at each station to serve commuters, Usec. Batan elaborated.

“At the same time, the MRT-3 was also designed to be expandable to 20 four-car trains, running with a 2-minute headway, or 4 LRVs every 2 minutes. That’s our target. In case our IAA Consultant clear the 48 LRVs for our use, we can achieve this earlier.”

On the other hand, the spare parts for the maintenance of MRT-3 will start arriving in tranches from February to June, after the MRT-3 management started procuring them last November, 2017.

DOTr plans to use the coming Holy Week break, when the railway suspends its operations, to conduct general maintenance works on MRT-3.

“We do the annual general maintenance during the Holy Week so we can increase the number of LRVs running. By this time, we are also expecting the arrival of most of the spare parts we have ordered,” he confirmed.

Based on its contract, Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI), the previous maintenance provider, was supposed to have completed the general overhaul of 26 LRVs by November, 2017.

When they were terminated last November 6, BURI was only able to overhaul 3 LRVs. This was one of the causes for their termination.

There would be no fare increase for train commuters while there is no substantial improvement of MRT-3 operations, according to Usec. Batan.

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