MANILA, Philippines – Unlike in the past year, the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT3) will not implement longer operating hours this Christmas season as its rail replacement works goes "full blast" beginning this month.
MRT3 Director Michael Capati relayed the decision in a statement on Tuesday, October 22, weeks after the train management studied possible extended operating hours this holiday season in anticipation of the surge in commuters.
Capati asked for public understanding as he explained how they reached the decision which, he said, was made in consultation with experts from MRT3 maintenance provider Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Ltd.
“Maglalaan po muna tayo ng sapat na oras at panahon para sa rail replacement in the last 3 months of this year. Masyado na pong sira-sira at baku-bako ang ating mga riles kaya kinakailangan na po talaga itong mapalitan sa lalong madaling panahon," Capati said.
(We will set aside enough time first for the rail replacement in the last 3 months of the year. Our rails have become so dilapidated and would need to be replaced at the soonest possible time.)
"Kaugnay nito, hindi muna magpapatupad ng extended operating hours ang MRT-3 management upang magbigay-daan sa full blast rail replacement activities (In this regard, the MRT3 management will not implement extended operations hours to give way to the full flast rail replacement activities)," he added.
Capati said the replacement of the rail tracks will begin this month, after operating hours, or from 11 pm to 4 am, and is targeted for completion by February 2021.
He said train riders can look forward to better services once the repairs are done, since trains would move faster, there would be shorter waiting time for passengers, and the trains can handle twice as much passengers.
"'Yan po ang regalong nais naming maihandog sa aming mga pasahero hindi lang ngayong Pasko, ngunit sa napakarami pang paskong darating (That is the gift we want to give our passngers not just this Christmas but many other Christmases to come),” Capati said.
"Hinihiling ng ahensya sa publiko ang buong suporta at pag-intindi habang patuloy ang malawakang rehabilitasyon ng linya upang maisakatuparan ang pangakong maibalik sa dating kalidad ang MRT-3 (The agency asks for public support and understanding as it undertakes the expansive rehabilitation of the line to deliver our promise to restore the MRT3 to its former glory)," he added.
The first regular Dalian train will also be halting its initial trial run when rail replacement works begin.
The MRT3 implemented a comprehensive rehabilitation of the railway in coordination with Sumitomo-MHI, which is set to be completed by July 2021. After its completion, the MRT3 ridership is expected to increase from 320,000 to 650,000 passengers. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.