Beware: MRT-3 may derail, warns HK's MTR

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2014 08:27 PM | Updated as of Dec 16 2014 04:34 AM

MANILA - Hong Kong's MTR has found the EDSA MRT-3 system to be at risk of train derailment that could result in a number of deaths.

The Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) has shared with lawmakers at the House of Representatives the executive summary of the 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 communications system, the station, and facilities.

The study's results were shared during a hearing of the House ommittee on Metro Manila Development.

Among the highlights of the study are:

- A 4-fold increase in broken rail cases was noted over the past 3 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 a rail break occurs 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.

During the hearing, an official of MRT maintenance operator APT Global maintained that the MRT-3 is safe.

Engineer Allan Ortencio told lawmakers that the system is "fail safe." He said the derailment last August at the Taft Avenue station was human error.

MRT-3 officer-in-charge Renato San Jose, meanwhile, said 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. The study, however, had its limitations. "The accuracy of the report including assessment and recommendations are compromised by incomplete information provided to MTR Corporation by the DOTC and the current maintenance provider, APT Global. Maintenance review is also specifically asked to be excluded from the scope."

There are 2 proposals to address the MRT problems: a $97M-98M rehabilitation plan that can be completed in 18 months, or a comprehensive rehabilitation and upgrading of the system that includes new stocks.