By Darwin G. Amojelar | The Standard | December 24, 2015

A Korean-Filipino group bagged a P3.81-billion long-term maintenance contract of Metro Rail Transit Line 3, the Transportation Department said Thursday.

The agency said beginning Jan. 5, 2016, the joint venture of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMICorp Inc. and Castan Corp. would fulfill the general maintenance requirements of MRT 3 for three years.

The three-year contract will allow the new service provider to procure the necessary spare parts needed to increase the number of operating trains, especially during peak hours.

It also covers the general overhaul of the trains and the total replacement of the signaling system.

Previous attempts to bid out the long-term maintenance contract, first in September 2014 and again in January 2015, resulted in failure due to the non-participation of bidders. 

Those included Busan Transport Corp, Mosan-Inekon Philippines Ltd. Co., SMRT International Pte Ltd., Miescorrail Inc. and D.M. Consunji Inc.

The Government Procurement Policy Board, recognizing the urgent need to address the railway’s maintenance requirements and the core problems of obsolescence and complete wear-and-tear, unanimously approved the transport agency’s decision to proceed with an alternative mode of procurement pursuant to Republic Act No. 9184.

The Justice Department and the National Economic Development Authority also approved the said mode of procurement.

The Transportation Department, while procuring the long-term service provider, engaged subcontractors directly under a multi-disciplinary approach to enhance the efficiency of maintenance works per component.

MRT 3, which runs from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, serves more than 500,000 passengers a day, beyond its rated capacity of 350,000.

The rail system has a fleet of 73 Czech-made air-conditioned rail cars, of which only 24 three-car trains operate daily because other trains need repair.

Three brand new train cars are expected to arrive this month from China, but their compatibility to the MRT system will still need to be tested .

The government placed orders for 48 new trains cars from China.