Poe: China-made trains for MRT 'low-hanging fruit' in solving traffic mess


Posted at Sep 10 2019 11:50 AM | Updated as of Sep 12 2019 12:17 PM

MANILA – Deploying China-made trains to increase the MRT's capacity is among "low-hanging fruits" that can help solve traffic congestion in the capital, Sen. Grace Poe said Tuesday, as she questioned transportation officials.

At a Senate hearing on the provincial bus ban on EDSA, Poe questioned why government has yet to deploy the trains built by Dalian Corp when discussions on their compatibility with the MRT system have been ongoing for 3 years.

"What you’re saying, the rail is part of the plan for emergency powers. I’m saying the low-hanging fruit was that the MRT was rehabilitated on time and we have the proper trains there we didn’t even need emergency powers," Poe said.

“Hanggang ngayon, 3 years after from the last administration hindi pa rin gumagana ‘yan,” Poe said.

(Up to now, 3 years after the last administration, they're still not working.)

She was referring to a proposal to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to help solve traffic in Metro Manila.

None of the 48 Dalian trains are operational, Department of Transportation Usec. for Rails Timothy Batan said. Several Dalian trains were deployed into the MRT-3 system for test-runs earlier this year.

A train has to complete a test-run of at least 1,000 km before it can be used for commercial operations, Sec. Arthur Tugade said during the hearing. However, tests were “suspended” after Sumitomo took over the maintenance of the country’s main train line in mid-2018.

“Sa kasalukuyan po mula nung nag assume si Sumitomo nagsuspend po tayo ng operations habang pinagaaralan po nila ang maintenance requirement ng mga Dalian trains,” Batan said.

(At present, since Sumitomo assumed, operations have been suspended while they study the maintenance requirement of the Dalian trains.)

During the DOTr’s budget briefing at the House of Representatives, Tugade renewed the administration’s push for emergency powers to solve traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

Asked if the government was seeking for compensation from Dalian, Tugade said that was “being explored.”

At least 15 MRT trains are operating during peak hours, still below the required 20 trains. Some 300,000 passengers are using the train line per day, the DOTr said.