Maila Ager | INQUIRER.net  | October 12, 2016

Commuters might have to wait for another year to experience improved services at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) pending the procurement of power supply that would allow a four-car train configuration or deployment of longer trains, an official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) told a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

DOTr Undersecretary Noel Kintanar explained that a four-car train configuration would increase the capacity of commuters by 33 percent.

"As we said on the first hearing, the real constraint of the MRT 3 is the power supply. Because, right now, we can run 20 three-car trains. If we were to put it in a four-car train configuration, which would increase capacity by 33 percent, hindi po kaya ng ating mga substations (our substations won't be able to handle them)," Kintanar told the Senate committee on public services.

He said the bids and awards committee has already started evaluating the bids for the procurement of the power supply, which he expects to be awarded within the month.

But the delivery of the power supply, Kintanar said, could take about 12 months based on bid documents.

"But were going to push as fast as we can and hopefully by mid next year, we can already deploy longer trains to increase capacity. But conservatively, we'd say around second to third quarter of 2017," he said, responding to queries of Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto.

"So you're saying that the trains of Dalian's can't be used unless we have that power supply. Not one or we can start using a few of them already?" Senator Grace Poe, chair of the committee, asked, referring to China's Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co.

"We can start using the Dalian po as soon as the onboard signaling is tested and each LRV (light rail vehicles) has to be tested for 1,500 kilometer…" Kintanar said.

"But when we have the power supply, we can increase capacity and our target is, again it says 12 months in the bid documents but you can rest assured that we will push the contractors to deliver as soon as possible," he added.

Before this, Kintanar told the committee that they expect the additional 12 Dalian trains to arrive on schedule in January, 2017.

The trains, he said, must be equipped with onboard signaling system and must undergo a 1,500 kilometer check.

"So meaning, none of the Dalian trains that were ordered were actually being utilized at this point. None yet?" Poe asked.

"Because there's signaling Madam chairman…but based on the contract, it was really scheduled for January 2017, that's the delivery schedule," Kintanar said.