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MRT-3 rehab promises better service to commuters

EDITORIAL

Updated

E CARTOON MAY 23, 2020The 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 Tranportation 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%) 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 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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