DOTr asks for understanding, cites maintenance lapses for fewer trains

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — The Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) deployed fewer trains due to maintenance issues, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a Facebook post Thursday.

"Ibinaba sa 15 ang bilang ng mga tren na pinapatakbo araw-araw kapag 'peak hours' upang mabigyang daan ang mas mabusising pagmementina ng mga bagon na hindi na maayos ang kondisyon," the DOTr statement read.

[Translation:We lowered the number of trains running during peak hours to 15, to give way for the intensive maintenance work of wagons that are no longer in good condition.]

It also appealed to commuters for understanding in a caption to the post.

"Ramdam po namin ang hirap na dinaranas natin araw-araw sa MRT-3. Ngunit, kami po ay humihingi ng kaunti pang pang-unawa at pasensya habang naghihintay ng pag-asenso," DOTr wrote.

[We feel the hardship (the commuters) go through daily on the MRT-3), but we have to ask for a little more understanding and patience as we wait for progress.]

The Transportation Department also said maintenance lapses from the previous provider, Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI), caused the deployment of fewer trains.

"Sa halip na makapag-overhaul ng 43 na bagon mula 2016 (hanggang) 2017, tatlong bagon lamang ang na-overhaul ng BURI," it added.

[Translation: Instead of overhauling 43 wagons from 2016 (to) 2017, BURI only overhauled three.]

In a response on Friday, BURI urged the DOTr to "stop the blame game." It said it began maintenance in 2016 with only 12 trains, which it was able to raise to 20 trains in 10 months.

"This is a far cry from what we are experiencing today, 11 trains running at peak hours and occasionally dropping to just 5 trains," it said.

The former maintenance provider has had strained relations with government following the termination of its MRT-3 contract in November 2016.

The DOTr cited poor performance in firing the company, but BURI said problems with the MRT could be traced to old railing — which was the government's job to replace.

Related: BURI barred from joining MRT, LRT public bidding

The DOTr also said that the first batch of spare parts is expected to arrive in February.

"Kapag dumating na ang mga bagong spare parts, inaasahang unti-unti na muli nating maiaakyat ang bilang ng mga bumibiyaheng tren at mababawasan na rin ang pagtirik ng mga itong habang bumabiyahe," it said.

[When the spare parts arrive, we can expect to gradually up the number of working trains and lessen the glitches during travel.]

The MRT line reported over 500 glitches in the course of 2017, up from about 400 in 2016. Some notorious hold-ups last year include a train wagon getting detached, a passenger nearly losing an arm, and an hour-long stall over a diaper stuck on a train line.

Related: Breakdowns, corruption and separations: The MRT in 2017