ABS-CBN News

DOTC to proceed with purchase of new MRT coaches

Posted at | Updated as of 02/25/14 2:52 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) can now proceed with the purchase of 48 new Light Rail Vehicles (LRV) for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 after the Makati Regional Trial Court dismissed the injunction case filed by MRT Holdings II Inc.

In its decision, the Makati RTC said only the Supreme Court can enjoin government infrastructure projects.

DOTC said the winner of the public bidding, China’s Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company, is set to start manufacturing the new LRVs following the dismissal of the case.

“The DOTC successfully fought for public interest and defended its position in court, but the true winners are the riders of MRT-3. The supplier can now start manufacturing the 48 brand new LRVs, which will be delivered in tranches starting in the second half of 2015,” Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya said on Monday.

Dalian is given 18 months to deliver the prototype LRV for testing on the MRT-3 system. After the tests, the remaining LRVs will then be delivered in tranches over the next 18 months.

Acquiring additional trains would increase the MRT-3's trips per hour from 20 to 24. This means from the current 23,640 people who can avail of the rail service every hour heading towards one direction, the project will make it possible for 37,824 passengers use the rail service.

At present, the MRT-3's average daily ridership is already over 560,000.

The MRT-3 expansion project was temporarily halted due to a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) issued against the DOTC in early February. [http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/02/04/14/makati-court-halts-mrt-3-expansion-project]

The Metro Rail Transit Corp. (MRTC), which owns the assets of the MRT-3, disputed the awarding of the P3.8 billion contract to the Chinese company, saying DOTC did not respect the owner's rights under the MRT build-lease-transfer agreement, which gives them the right to supply trains for the MRT-3.

Legal remedies

MRT Holdings counsel David Narvasa, meanwhile, said they will continue to look into legal remedies to address the denial of its prayer for a preliminary injunction.

He maintained that under the Build Lease and Transfer (BLT) Agreement, MRTC has the right to purchase the new LRVs, not the DOTC.

“DOTC can only purchase additional LRVs and operate said LRVs on MRT-3 if MRTC has given its express consent or waived its right of first refusal to supply additional LRVs,” he said.

Narvasa added that it is the arbitration case in Singapore “that will finally decide on who has the rights to the capacity expansion on the MRT-3.”

“Any contracts entered into by the DOTC will be subject to the results of the arbitration case. Neither DOTC nor Dalian Locomotive can deny in good faith lack of knowledge of the provisions of the BLT
Agreement,” he said.

He also clarified that the MRT Holdings (MRTH) is not trying to “enjoin” the purchase of additional LRVs.

“MRTH is not trying to enjoin the purchase of additional LRVs per se. MRTH does not dispute that additional LRVs are needed but only desire that MRTC be able to exercise its rights under the BLT Agreement to purchase the additional LRVs,” he said. -- With a report from Coco Alcuaz, ANC