DOTr apologizes over MRT smoke incident

January 28, 2018 - 3:44 PM
BFP personnel use ladder to rescue passengers during an MRT incident on Jan. 20, 2018. Photographed by BOY SANTOS / Philstar

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has apologized to the public over the smoke incident that occured in one of the trains of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) on Friday, giving assurances it will take measures to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway system.

Around 600 passengers had to disembark the train between Cubao and Kamuning stations after smoke wafted from under one of the seats at about 1:20 p.m.. The passengers were safely assisted to the nearest station, and regular service resumed at around 2:50 p.m. ending the day with 321,397 riders.

DOTr said an investigation is ongoing and the MRT management was directed to release its findings as soon as possible.

“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) expresses sincere apologies to those who were affected and inconvenienced by the recent smoke incident that occurred last Friday in one of MRT-3’s trains,” the department said in a statement late Saturday.

“The DOTr appeals to the riding public’s understanding while it pushes ahead, in the most expeditious manner, strategies and actions to effectively and sustainably restore and rehabilitate the current MRT-3 system—a system that has deteriorated due to cumulative errors in policy and operational decisions made across several administrations,” it added.

A Maintenance Transition Team (MTT) was established by the DOTr-MRT 3 management following the termination of its maintenance contract with Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) over the latter’s failure to procure the spare parts vital to increasing the number of trains for passengers.

A Special Bids and Awards Committee has procured the spare parts, with its initial batch set to be delivered in February; and with restoration of service liability expected to begin toward the latter part of February and gradually thereafter.

Japan has likewise committed to provide assistance for the rehabilitation and maintrenance of MRT 3.

The rehabilitation and maintenance service provider for the MRT is expected to be mobilized by May 2018. DOTr has stressed with the Government of Japan that the provider they will nominate must be highly qualified and with a proven track record.
The department is also pursuing an unsolicited proposal for the 30-year operation and maintenance of the MRT-3 with the original proponent status granted to Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and its proposal soon to be endorsed to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Furthermore, DOTr hired the services of Independent Audit and Assessment (IAA) firm TUV Rheinland to evaluate and make recommendations on the feasibility of using the 48 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) delivered by Chinese railway firm CCRC Dalian and other components of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).

The report of TUV Rheinland is intended to give DOTr additional inputs and guidance on the interventions needed to rehabilitate and restore MRT-3 reliability.