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MRT-3 rehab promises better service to commuters

 

EDITORIAL edt

THE Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown in Metro Manila to step up its rehabilitation program so it is now several months ahead of its February, 2021, target date.

MRT-3, it may be recalled, became the object of a great deal of public attention and even a Senate inquiry when its trains began to suffer frequent breakdowns on its route along Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA). Trains often stalled between stations, forcing passengers to walk back along the elevated tracks. With fewer trains running, long lines of passengers formed in city streets before they could enter the stations and get rides.

The new administration restored Sumitomo as MRT-3’s maintenance firm and the Department of Transportation initiated a rehabilitation program for the entire system.

This week, Secretary Arthur P. Tugade of the Department of Transportation announced that MRT-3 took advantage of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) lockdown in Metro Manila to step up the MRT-3 rehabilitation program.

In these last two months when all public mass transport, including rails, were shut down along with all business and office operations in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, MRT-3 fast-tracked its replacement of rails. Of MRT-3’s total 65,892 linear meters of rails, 36,540 meters (55.45 percent) have now been replaced.

A system check in October will test the alignment of the tracks, the overhead catenary or cable system, and the signaling and communication systems. The 72 light rail vehicles of MRT-3 will undergo comprehensive rehabilitation work.

Once the replacement work is completed, the operating speed of MRT-3 trains will increase from the current 30 kilometers per hour (kph) to 60 kph by December. The number of operational trains will increase from 15 to 20 a day. With faster and more trains, MRT-3 will double its passenger capacity from the current 300,000 to 600,000 a day.

We do not know when the virus will cease to be a danger to us, whether we will ever be able to gather or travel without worrying about social distancing. When MRT-3 resumes its operations, we may have to continue to avoid having too many people inside its coaches, but the changes in the rails and other systems of MRT-3 should help immensely in moving its thousands of commuters even under the “new normal” imposed on us by COVID-19.

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