Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo | BusinessWorld | November 10, 2017

THE Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 will have a new maintenance provider next year, Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said.

"By next year, the MRT will have a new service provider," Mr. Tugade told reporters on the sidelines of the site inspection of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Harbor Link Segment 10.

A transition team composed of personnel from DoTr, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) and staff absorbed by the DoTr from Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) is currently managing the maintenance of the MRT, following the termination by DoTr of the maintenance contract held by BURI.

BURI in January 2015 signed a negotiated contract in the absence of other bidders. DoTr terminated the contract citing BURI's alleged failure to ensure efficient and available trains and failure to procure the proper spare parts.

BURI however contested the claims of the DoTr, saying that operational failures should not be blamed on the provider because of the poor condition of the rails, which BURI under the contract, is not required to rehabilitate. The Filipino-South Korean joint venture said it is hoping that a Quezon City regional trial court can grant a stay of the termination, bringing both sides to arbitration.

The DoTr in October granted Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) original-proponent status for its unsolicited proposal to rehabilitate the MRT, covering both operations and maintenance. The proposal involves an investment of P20 billion to rehabilitate the train system, as well as the handling of operations for a period of 30 to 32 years.

Former LRMC President and CEO Rogelio L. Singson said in September that the consortium plans to take over the management of the MRT-3 within six months and said the company hopes to start the transition by next year.

LRMC currently manages the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1. The consortium is composed of Metro Pacific Investment Corp.'s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., Ayala Corp.'s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.

Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez has said that interested parties for the maintenance of the MRT are Singapore MRT, RATP Group, which LRMC tapped as a partner for the improvement of the LRT-1 system, and previous provider Sumitomo Corp. with Mitsubishi Heavy Industry and TESP.

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