Maintenance provider: Old trains cause of MRT problems

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — The maintenance provider for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) said old trains were behind the numerous problems with the train's service over the past week.

Officials from Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI) countered on Wednesday the government's claim that the company's alleged poor maintenance work had been the cause of the MRT's problems.

"Yung aging, lumang-luma na ang mga train natin. 1999 nagsimula operations nila, 2017. So almost 18 years na silang tumatakbo," project manager Engr. Roseller Mendoza explained.

[Translation: Aging, because our trains are really old. Their operations started in 1999, now it's 2017. So they've been running for almost 18 years.]

The company added that no matter how well the trains were maintained, there would still be issues with the MRT's service if the government didn't completely replace the tracks. Busan Rails also said the tracks were not part of their maintenance work.

Previously, the company said it had "delivered more than what is specified in its contract of services despite the present old conditions of the MRT trains as evident by the delivery of more trains from 13 to 21."

"On the average, it has restored 2-3 cars every month since its contract started in January, to be able field up to 21 trains (consisting of three cars each) at revenue line during peak periods," the statement said.

However, Transportation Undersecretary Rail Cesar Chavez said according to the report of MRT's engineers, poor maintenance was the cause of the train's glitches.

He added they've been unsatisfied with Busan Rail's performance, saying the company failed to fulfill several obligations in their contracts, like overhauling old MRT cars.

"Almost every month magbibigay sila ng bagon na na-overhaul. 'Pag na-overhaul mo ang bagon, that's good as new, therefore ang train reliability ay mas maganda kumpara sa mini-maintain lang. Tanong may nagawa ba sila? Hindi," Chavez said.

[Translation:Almost every month they give an overhauled coach. If a coach is overhauled, it's as good as new, therefore the train reliability is better compared to those which are just maintained. Have they done anything? No.]

Chavez added Busan should have overhauled at least 16 cars by now, but it had completed none.

"Ang pagre-replace ng riles is obligasyon ng gobyerno, pero ang maintenance ng riles ay obligasyon ng maintenance contractor. Paano ang maintenance rail grinding machine...Ginawa nila yan pero hindi natapos," he said.

[Translation: Rail replacement is the government's obligation, but rail maintenance is the obligation of the maintenance contractor. How about the maintenance rail grinding machine...they were doing it but it was not finished.]

On April 17, a southbound train stopped at the Magallanes station at 8:48 p.m. after smoke filled the cars, forcing passengers out. Based on initial investigation, the train's axle encountered a problem.

Read: Hot weather may be causing MRT glitches, officials say

The glitches happened right after the maintenance work during the Holy Week break.

Chavez added that Busan Rails has until April 28 to explain why it shouldn't have its contract cancelled due to alleged poor maintenance.

Meanwhile, PBA party-list representative Jericho Nograles said his group's investigation found Busan Rails' poor maintenance has been causing damage on the rails.

"Sinasabi ng BURI na maraming problema dahil sira ang riles ng tren. Ang riles naman ng tren, sa totoo lang, dahil hindi bilog ang gulong ng mga tren ng BURI. At hindi sila bilog dahil hindi nil name-mentain ng maayos," Nograles said.

[Translation: BURI is saying that there are many problems because the rails are broken. The train wheels are malformed because BURI is not maintaining them properly.]