January 24, 2018, 9:25 am
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Safety auditor tapped assess Dalian LRVs

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has tapped an independent safety auditor to decide on what to do with the 48 brand new light rail vehicles (LRVs) delivered by China-led CRRC Dalian which previously faced safety issues.

TJ Batan, DOTr OIC undersecretary for railways, said German firm TUV Rheinland will evaluate and certify whether the 48 LRVs from Dalian are safe to be deployed at the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3).

Batan said the trains were already delivered, “but we are unable to accept them unless our IAA (Independent Audit and Assessment) Consultant has certified their safety and compatibility with our system.”

Earlier, concerns were raised with the 48 LRVs procured by the previous administration for P3.8 billion after they exceeded the weight prescribed in the terms of reference (49,700kg vs. 46,300kg). Compatibility with the MRT-3’s maintenance facilities and signaling system were also an issue.

However, Batan explained that with the current Czech-made trains, MRT-3 can operate up to 20 three-car trains. If the 48 LRVs are cleared to run, that can be increased to 20 four-car trains.

The MRT-3’s original design capacity at peak hours is 20 three-car trains running at 60kph, with a three-minute headway. This means a new train comes every three minutes.

The MRT-3 was also designed to be expandable to 20 four-car trains running with a two-minute headway.

But the MRT-3 is operating way below its original capacity with only nine trains deployed as of 2 p.m. yesterday, with nine minutes waiting time. The DOTr targets to deploy additional trains during peak hours but this would not reach 15 trains.

Established in 1872, TUV Rheinland has met the high qualifications set by MRT-3 – ISO 17020 and ISO 17065 certification, and membership in the International Federation of Inspection Agencies. Other similarly qualified firms that participated were TUV SUD and Bureau Veritas.

Meanwhile, spare parts for the maintenance of MRT-3 will begin arriving in tranches from February to June, having started their procurement last November.

Batan said general maintenance works on MRT-3 will be conducted during the Holy Week break when there will be no operations.

Based on its contract, Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI), the previous maintenance provider, was supposed to have completed the general overhaul of 26 LRVs by November 2017. 

When its contract was terminated last November 6, BURI was only able to overhaul three LRVs which is one of the causes of its termination.

Batan assured train commuters there will be no fare increase while there is no substantial improvement in MRT-3’s operations.
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