MRT at risk of derailing - study

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2014 05:10 PM | Updated as of Dec 16 2014 10:51 PM

MRT is safe, says maintenance provider

MANILA (UPDATE) – MTR of Hong Kong found the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 (MRT-3) system to be at risk of train derailment that could result in substantial casualties.

The MRT Corp. (MRTC) on Monday shared with lawmakers at the House of Representatives the executive summary of MTR of Hong Kong's study of the MRT-3.

The study was done on the track at the depot and mainline, the rolling stock, the signaling system, high voltage power supply system and overhead catenary system, the communication system, the station and the facilities as well as the depot facilities.

The results of the study were shared during a hearing of the committee on Metro Manila development.

Among the highlights of the study are:

- A four-fold increase in broken rail cases was noted over the past three years which is a clear indication that the current maintenance strategy is insufficient to halt the growth of the defect

- Of all the systems surveyed, the track condition is most alarming and requires immediate attention

- Replacement of defective track section is recommended but it is noticed that there is insufficient stock

- The fact that broken rail cases in the past had not led to train derailment should not be taken as an indication that it will not happen in the future. If rail break does occur despite the speed restriction to 40 kilometers per hour and is unnoticed, the derailment risk would still be considerable

- A broken rail is a serious threat to the safe operation of the railway. It can potentially cause train derailment resulting in substantial casualties in a high usage system like MRT-3.

'MRT is safe'

Meanwhile, an official of APT Global, the maintenance operator of the MRT-3 has reiterated that the rail system is safe.

APT Global’s Engineer Allan Ortencio told lawmakers that the system is fail safe, maintaining that the incident of derailment last August at the Taft Avenue station was caused by human error.

The statement from APT Global came after MRT read parts of the report by MTR of Hong Kong, which claimed the MRT-3 was unsafe.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza then said APT Global should be held accountable in case anything happens to riders.

MRT-3 officer-in-charge Renato San Jose maintained that their own study of the system is similar to what MTR of Hong Kong said in its report.

MRTC commissioned MTR of Hong Kong to audit the assets of MRT-3, and it found that the track condition was alarming and required immediate attention.

It was described to be poor and unacceptable for continued use.

MRTC also said that track derailment remains possible even if it hasn’t happened yet and it could result in substantial casualties.
About 6 lineal kilometers of track need to be replaced.

The study, however, has its limitations: "The accuracy of the report including assessment and recommendations are compromised by incomplete information provided to MTRC by DOTC and the current maintenance provider, APT Global. Maintenance review is also specifically asked to be excluded from the scope."

One of the proposals to address the MRT’s problems is a $97-$98 million rehabilitation plan that can be completed in 18 months.

Another proposal is a comprehensive rehabilitation and upgrading of the system which includes the addition of new stocks.