By GMA News | GMA News Online | September 11, 2015

The Department of Transportation and Communications and the MRT-3 project team are meeting the German suppliers next week in China to fast track the testing of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) prototype train.

 “To fast-track the whole process, we met with officials from the German Embassy, Voith and Knorr-Bremse a few weeks back regarding delivery schedules,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said on Wednesday.

“Next week, our team will discuss the details with these suppliers, so we can explore ways to provide more trains to the public earlier than scheduled,” he added, noting that he will be heading to Dalian for the said meeting.

Voith is manufacturing the traction systems and gearboxes for the 48 brand new coaches of the MRT-3 line, and Knorr-Bremse is in charge of the brake systems.

“As we announced last June, the static testing will be conducted from September to October. Meanwhile, the dynamic testing was scheduled from November to December, when these parts will be delivered from Germany,” Abaya said.

Maintenance contract

According to the DOTC, it is targeting to award the P4.25 billion contract for a 3-year total maintenance provider (TMP) within the fourth quarter of the year.

From the seven current multi-discipline contractors maintaining the rail line, the new contractor will take over starting in January 2016.

“This long-term maintenance provider will not only undertake the regular maintenance requirements of the system over the next three years, it will also conduct the general overhaul of existing MRT-3 coaches, as well as the replacement of the signaling system,” the DOTC said.

The overhauling is needed to improve the condition of the 16-year old coaches and ensure safer operations by replacing the signaling system, the department noted.

Also, the DOTC has acquired some 7,000 linear meters of new rails to replace the worn-out tracks starting in the fourth quarter of 2015, the department said. – Jon VIktor Cabuenas/VS, GMA News