19 trains sets, including 3 Dalian trains set for GCQ; rail replacement targets September 2020 completion

MRT Dalian trainsFrom 15 train sets before ECQ, passengers will see 19 train sets running in MRT-3 beginning on Monday, 01 June 2020, when Metro Manila transitions into General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

“Ang gagamitin na tren sa Lunes ay hindi na 14 o 15. Ang gagamitin ay 19 na tren. Sa ganitong pamamaraan, madadagdagan ang biyahe at madadagdagan ang mga mananakay bagamat limited capacity,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

Moreover, from a pre-ECQ operating speed of 30kph, trains will be running at up to 40kph starting on Monday at certain sections of the MRT-3 mainline (between North Avenue and Santolan Stations, and between Buendia and Taft Stations).

This will reduce headway, or the time between trains, from an average of 9 minutes pre-ECQ to an average of 6 minutes upon resumption of operations.

The increase in the number of train sets and operating speed was made possible by progress in rail replacement works conducted by MRT-3 during ECQ and Modified ECQ, and the agreement of Sumitomo and the concurrence of JICA to deploy 3 Dalian train sets to add capacity to MRT-3 during GCQ operations.

“Sa dahilan na nagawa na po natin ang ilan sa mga rail replacement project, mai-experience n’yo na po ang takbo ng ating mga tren sa ilang bahagi ng linya na nasa 40kph, mula sa dating 25 to 30kph,” Secretary Tugade said.

Meanwhile, MRT-3 Director for Operation Michael Capati said that this development will aid the expected reduction of the line’s capacity.

“Having more trains, faster operating speed, and lower headway are intended to contribute in mitigating the reduction in capacity of MRT-3, which will only be able to accommodate 153 passengers per train set, or 13% of its pre-ECQ capacity of 1,182 passengers per train set, due to implementation of 1-meter social distancing inside trains,” Dir. Capati said.

“Ang MRT3 po ay handang mag serbisyo sa publiko simula Hunyo 01 para sa gradual, kalkulado at parsyal na operasyon,” Capati added.

Physical distancing markers have been placed inside the 19 train sets, to implement the 1-meter social distancing requirement per IATF and DOH guidelines.

For his part, DOTr Undersecreatry for Railways TJ Batan said that with passenger operations being suspended during ECQ and MECQ, MRT-3 was able to advance its rail replacement works ahead of schedule.

As of 28 May 2020, 40,140 linear meters out of 65,892 linear meters of rail have been replaced (60.92%), with 9,216 linear meters replaced during ECQ and MECQ.

“Rail replacement works are expected to be completed by September 2020, several months ahead of its February 2021 target completion date. Following completion of rail replacement works, train operating speed will gradually increase from 40kph to 60kph by December 2020, leading to a reduction of headway, or the time between trains, down to 3.5 minutes,” Usec Batan said.

Completion of rail replacement will also improve the reliability of MRT-3 by lessening vibration, which is a common cause of malfunctions and delays.