Gov't hopes to get new MRT-3 maintenance provider by end-2017

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 10) — The government plans to hire a new maintenance provider for the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) by the end of 2017, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

"Hopefully, the negotiation will be completed so that by the end of this year, we can come up with a decision on who will be the permanent or over-a-period-of-time service provider for the MRT," he told CNN Philippines on Friday.

The government temporarily took over the maintenance of the MRT-3 from Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) on Monday because of poor performance.

Read: DOTr: Gov't to take over MRT maintenance

Tugade said the government is in talks with Japanese and European companies for the maintenance contract.

Earlier, the Transportation Department said possible replacements to BURI are Singapore MRT, Japan's Sumitomo, which was the MRT's former contractor, and French firm RATP, which maintains Light Rail Transit Line 1.

Tugade said the government's new point-to-point (P2P) bus service, which was launched on Friday to help relieve the crowded MRT, will not be permanent.

Read: Gov't rolls out P2P buses for MRT passengers

The P2P service was set up to reduce the stress of commuters who have to wait longer in line to get on the MRT after the Transportation Department cut the number of trains in operation.

Read: DOTr deploying fewer MRT-3 train sets to lessen passenger inconvenience

Tugade said his office is finishing an audit on MRT trains bought from Chinese firm Dalian Locomotive Corp. in a ₱3.8-billion contract signed in 2014. 

A Senate committee probe found the 48 trains were incompatible with MRT-3 and only 29 have a signaling system.

Read: Senate to back filing of charges vs. former transport officials over defective MRT trains

A signaling system is used to direct railway traffic and keep trains clear of each other.

The committee also found that the trains weighed just over 49,000 kilos, some 3,000 more than the 46,300-kilo limit under the terms of the contract.

Tugade said that if the audit shows that the vehicles will not work, these will be returned to China.

"The other trains, which is supplied by the same supplier in the other domains like Singapore, Hong Kong and Pakistan, isinoli na after a result of an audit [these were returned after a result of an audit]," he said.