Why MRT-3’s 24-hour operation is ‘not doable’

August 18, 2023 - 6:39 PM
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A photo of MRT-3 trains at its underground depot in Quezon City (DOTrPH/Facebook)

Metro Rail Transit-3 trains undergo nightly maintenance at the depot to ensure safe operations during the day.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) cited this as the main reason why 24-hour operations are not “doable” anytime soon.

This was in response to recent calls by commuters to extend the operations of Metro Manila trains.

RELATED: ‘Night shift jobs’: Commuters call for extension of Metro Manila railway operations

In a statement on August 17, MRT-3 Director for Operations Engineer Oscar Bongon focused on the MRT-3 trains’ nightly care.

Bongon said extending the train’s operating hours will cause a delay in maintenance, thus affecting the rest of the system.

“Kailangan ma-ensure na nami-maintain kasi po pag hindi mami-maintain, slowly mag deteriorate ‘yung system,” Bongon said.

“Tayo po, iisa lang ang linya natin so we really have to maintain it.’Yun po ang kaibahan. Gaya sa Japan o Europe, marami silang linyang magkakasabay so pwedeng during nighttime na konti ang passenger demand, papatayin niya ang ibang linya at imaintain ‘yun at salitan ‘yun so they can operate 24 hours,” he added.

The DOTr director also shared the important tasks done for train maintenance. These include cleaning, troubleshooting, and inspection.

“Napaka-vital po nito kasi ito po ‘yung ating linya, dito po tumatakbo ‘yung mga tren natin. Ini- ensure natin na from the tracks to the signaling and then the power lahat po yan tsine-check natin para reliable ang ating operations at saka ‘yung safety nai-ensure natin na walang aberya sa revenue period,” Bongon said.

DOTr also uploaded a video that provided an overview of MRT-3’s after-hour upkeep.

In a separate post, DOTr listed the maintenance activities being done to prepare the MRT-3 trains for the daily grind.

These are:

  • Train inspection
  • Interior and exterior cleaning
  • Air condition checking and cleaning
  • Train washing
  • Shunting and uncoupling of trains
  • Escalator preventive maintenance
  • Power supply preventive maintenance

To further visualize the night shift work for the trains, DOTr uploaded photos that showed the situation at MRT-3’s depot or a train parking space.

“Ang MRT-3 management ay patuloy na binibigyang-prayoridad ang pang araw-araw na rehabilitasyon at maintenance ng tren, para panatilihin ang kalidad ng serbisyo ng MRT-3 at siguruhin ang kaligtasan ng bawat pasahero,” the agency said.

MRT-3 has an eight-hectare underground depot. This is located near the North Avenue station and below the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City.

Commuters, meanwhile, have been calling on transport authorities to extend train hours for several years.

MRT-3 has also previously noted the trains’ maintenance schedule amid the demand for it.

“Historically, we are not extending train operations as it will affect the system’s maintenance schedule,” the management was quoted in a report as saying.

Train operators of LRT-1 and LRT-2, and the Philippine National Railways, meanwhile, have no response or statement on the matter.