First set of Dalian trains ready for regular run

The first set of trains purchased from Chinese firm CRRC Dalian is ready for deployment to the regular operations of the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3) within the week, at the earliest.

The initial set, which consists of three train cars, has completed and passed its test runs prior to the deployment to the railway system.

“The first train set we are pushing for this week, if this is not possible, next week. We already have a report from the PNR (Philippine National Railways) and MRT-3 so we are addressing just some issues and questions,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday.

The MRT-3 management has deployed three Dalian train sets and completed a series of test runs, which included a 1,000 kilometer commissioning test and 150 hours of validation runs.

The PNR will issue a turnover certificate to the MRT-3 if the trains passed the tests, which will pave the way for their deployment to the regular operations of the railway system.

A conditional turnover certificate will be issued for the first Dalian train set as another testing will be done, after the rehabilitation program of the MRT is completed.

“We will issue the conditional turnover certificate because at this time we are still unable to test for 60 kph. The system cannot handle 60 kph at this time. If Sumitomo has completed the rehab after the rails and systems are fixed, we will run it again at 60 kph before issuing the final turnover certificate,” Batan said.

The transportation official said the second train set is being eyed for regular deployment in April while the third train set is still undergoing evaluations after completing the test runs.

A total of 48 Dalian light rail vehicles were delivered to the country in 2016 but were not deployed to the MRT line due to compatibility issues. CRRC Dalian eventually agreed to absorb the costs for the adjustments of the trains.

Meanwhile, the MRT-3 management is set to formally turnover the rehabilitation of the railway system to the consortium of Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) within late April to early May.

Last February, Sumitomo-MHI has started the advance procurement of tracks, train parts, and other components necessary for the comprehensive rehabilitation of MRT-3 despite the government’s failure to pay them due to delays in the approval of the 2019 national budget.

“We are thankful because Sumitomo has been very trusting especially to the DOTr and the administration. The rehabilitation could not have gone forward without the advance payment,” Batan said.

The MRT rehabilitation, which involves the repair and maintenance of its electric components, power supply, rail tracks, and depot equipment; and the overhaul of its 72 light rail vehicles is expected to last for 26 months or within the first quarter of 2021.

The government of the Philippines and Japan has signed last November a PHP18-billion loan agreement, which paved the way for the takeover of Sumitomo-MHI as the rehabilitation and maintenance provider of the MRT system. PNA