Dalian trains finally part of MRT-3 after years of controversy

October 30, 2018 - 12:19 PM
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Dalian MRT train
One of the Dalian MRT-3 trains in testing. (Philstar.com file photo/DoTr release)

At long last, the once-controversial transport trains made by China-based CRRC Dalian  are finally in operation at the Metro Rail Transit.

The Department of Transportation on Sunday deployed the first of the 48 trains from the Chinese manufacturer. Up to three trains can be deployed within the week, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan meanwhile said that the first train deployed will initially be used during off-peak hours on weekends for 150 hours. He added that the remainder of the trains not in use are currently being tested.

The transportation chief explained that the safety of the MRT-3’s commuters, the metropolis’ busiest transit system with up to 300,000 passengers daily, is the paramount concern as the DoTr refuses to deploy the much-awaited coaches in bulk.

“We are taking it slow because we want to be sure. We will not compromise the lives and the safety of our passengers, and that is why we are only deploying one train,” Tugade said on Sunday.

He said that they have yet to encounter any problems since testing of the trains started on Saturday.

Those who have had a glimpse of the new trains are airing their awe.

Some however continue to recall the controversy that led to the trains’ delayed installment.

Journey of the Dalian trains

While test runs of the Dalian trains started in 2016, calls to probe the P3.8 billion purchase during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III started in 2017.

The deployment of the procured trains was expected to take place as early as March that year.

Among the alleged defects that barred the trains’ deployment were its supposed incompatibility with the MRT-3’s tracks.

The DOTr briefly considered the return of the 48 trains to Dalian following the allegations.

After calling for an audit by German firm TUV Rheinland, an independent consultant, the DOTr in January 2018 said that they would refuse to accept the delivery of the 48 trains until completion of the said audit.

Prior to the independent audit, another transport consultant had argued that the trains were in fact within the MRT-3 tracks’ weight limit. Dalian itself, on the one hand, said that they were willing to shoulder the costs of adjusting the trains to make them compatible with the MRT-3.

In July 2018, Tugade announced that the audit had been completed, but explained that the DOTr needed to discuss the results with Dalian. He added that the audit found that the purchase was not fully compliant with the terms of reference of the purchase.

There have since then been calls to make the results of the audit as well as the negotiations with Dalian public following the completion of the evaluation.