COA: 48 MRT-3 trains worth ₱3.7-B left unused for 8 years

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) – Forty-eight Dalian trains procured by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for ₱3.75 billion to increase Metro Rail Transit Line 3's (MRT-3) capacity have been unused and are deteriorating since their acquisition in 2014, state auditors said.

The Commission on Audit (COA), in a report published July 13, said this was “due to the non-completion of the proposed Way-Forward Plan as well as the testing, commissioning and final acceptance of the Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs), thereby depriving the riding public of the benefits of a more comfortable transportation system.”

On January 24, 2014, the DOTr entered a contract worth ₱3,759,382,400 with CRRC Dalian Co. LTD, a Chinese locomotive company, for 48 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) as part of a Capacity Expansion (CAPEX) Project. This was to allow the MRT-3 to ferry 800,000 passengers a day.

The expansion was supposed to be implemented from February 26, 2014 until January 20, 2017.

The COA noted that on July 26, 2019, only nine of the light rail vehicles were issued Provisional Acceptance Certificates, with the Final Acceptance Certificates (FACs) to be issued only after the trains were demonstrated to perform at the MRT-3’s design speed of 60 kilometers per hour.

Further, the final certificates can only be issued after the lifting of a speed restriction on the MRT-3 line stipulated in a Rehabilitation and Maintenance Agreement (RMA) between the DOTr and Sumitomo Corporation – the original designer and maintenance provider of the MRT-3.

The rehabilitation agreement was executed last December 28, 2018 and concluded on May 31, 2023.

Meanwhile, the other 39 vehicles have yet to be subjected to testing and commission. This is also restricted due to the rehabilitation agreement.

Citing an asset valuation conducted by Systra Philippines in July 2022, auditors noted that of the nine provisionally-accepted trains, three were in operational or “medium” condition while five were found not functional and in “bad” condition.

“Dalian vehicles have too many incidents impacting the line service operation for new vehicles; and it seems that the unavailability of spare parts prevents repair of the five (5) Dalian vehicles which are NOT functional,” the COA said.

Meanwhile, auditors added that the DOTr came up with a “Way-Forward Plan” to amend the Sumitomo deal, allowing the operational deployment of the provisionally-accepted trains and for the inclusion of all 48 within the rehabilitation and maintenance agreement. This has not yet been fully implemented.

The COA recommended that the DOTr “actively coordinate with CRRC Dalian and Sumitomo Corporation for the necessary activities to fast-track the completion of the Way-Forward Plan to fully utilize the LRVs and ultimately for the riding public to obtain the benefits for which these LRVs were procured.”