Chinese firm Dalian agrees to pay all costs to fix unused MRT3 trains

MANILA, Philippines – All costs related to fixing the controversial 48 unused Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) trains will be shouldered by Chinese firm CRRC Dalian Company Limited.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Thursday, August 30 confirmed this during the budget deliberations by the House committee on appropriations. (READ: Dalian trains may be used later this year but...)

"Magagamit ba ang Dalian [trains]? Sa pagpupulong-pulong namin, pwedeng gamitin pero kailangang magkaroon ng improvement sa coaches [at] supply ng spare parts na gagamitin para maging compatible ang Dalian trains. Pangako ng Dalian, sagot lahat [ng gagastusin] ng China," Tugade said.

(Can we use the Dalian trains? In our discussions, they can be used but the coaches need improvement, as well as a supply of spare parts that will be used so that the trains will be compatible. Dalian promised that all costs will be absorbed by the Chinese firm.)

Philippine economic and transportation managers recently went to Beijing, China to meet with their Chinese counterparts to discuss infrastructure projects for the government's centerpiece program Build, Build, Build.

The fate of the Dalian trains were among those discussed during the high-level meeting in Beijing.

The 48 Dalian trains were delivered in 2016 but remained unused due to compatibility issues. The new coaches were part of the MRT3 expansion project, which aimed to decongest the railway system and increase its capacity to serve over 800,000 passengers daily.

The audit report by German firm TUV Rheinland found that the trains may be used. However, there are discrepancies between what was delivered and was stipulated on the terms of references required by the Philippine government.

Railways Undersecretary Timothy John Batan on Thursday said that the Dalian trains will have to integrated into the MRT3 system, thus made arrangements with Toshiba Infrastructure Systems to fix this.

"We made arrangements with Toshiba Infrastructure Systems at no cost to the government that they will certify the open items [that need to be addressed] on the Dalian trains issue. Both MRT3 and Philippine National Railways are part of the process to verify," he said in Filipino.

Batan explained that they contracted the services of Toshiba because Japanese firm Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd, the original builder of the MRT3, will soon come in as the new maintenance provider.

The DOTr said the Dalian trains exceeded the total weight required in its contract. The DOTr specified that each train should weigh 46.4 tons, but the delivered trains weighed 49.7 tons.

Since the year started, the MRT3 has broken down 63 times and experienced a record low of 6 running trains back in February. An average of 15 trains operate daily, with some 340,000 people served. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image