Mary Ann Santiago and Ellson Quismorio | Manila Bulletin | April 25, 2017

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has given the service provider of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT) seven days to explain the derailment of one of its trains last Tuesday night or face cancellation of its contract.

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Cesar Chavez served a notice to the Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) a day after the derailment, which happened after the passengers got off at the MRT North Avenue Station in Quezon City.

The train's gearbox reportedly snapped, causing the train the slip off the tracks.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles is calling on the House of Representatives to investigate the incident.

Nograles said the MRT-3 management and BURI deliberately hid the derailment from the public.

"We're lucky no one was harmed but I renew my calls for concern that these are rolling coffins. I am calling on the House Transport Committee to act on House Resolution (HR) 787 immediately," he said in a statement Sunday.

HR 787 calls on the transportation panel headed by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento to question MRT officials and maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) about its substandard services.

Nograles said the train's gearbox "is equivalent to car's axle which holds the wheels together…the incident was not reported to the public."

He said it was the first case of derailment in MRT-3's 17-year service history. The train system which stretches from North Avenue to Taft Avenue in Pasay City has an average daily ridership of 450,000.

Nograles called the incident a very serious sign that the system is in a state of serious disrepair and could already be unsafe for the riding public.

"We were still fortunate that the train contained no passengers and the speed was slow. It could have had disastrous consequences if it was derailed while it was still filled with passengers," he said.

Nograles considered the derailment as worse than the 2014 incident where an MRT train overshot its tracks. Some 38 passengers were injured then.

"What happened last Tuesday is more serious …because the train was literally removed from its tracks! A lot of deadly scenarios can happen if the train was running on normal speed and was filled with passengers," he said.

It took the MRT four hours to put the wheels back on track.