MANILA - The MRT-3 will have 4 additional trainsets on Monday, bringing the total number of usable trains on the railway to 19, the Department of Transportation said on Sunday.
Of the 4 new trains, 3 will be from Dalian, which had been mired in controversy a few years back.
“Sa ganitong pamamaraan, madadagdagan ang biyahe at madadagdagan ang mga mananakay bagama't limited capacity,” said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
(This way, there will be more trips and there will be more passengers even if the capacity is limited.)
Trains will also be traveling at a faster 40 kilometers per hour at certain sections of the track, between North Avenue and Santolan Stations, and between Buendia and Taft Stations.
This is faster than the earlier speed of 30 kph from before the lockdown, the DOTr said.
"This will reduce headway, or the time between trains, from an average of 9 minutes pre-ECQ to an average of 6 minutes upon resumption of operations," the DOTr said.
Rail replacement works conducted during the lockdown have made possible the increase in the number of train sets and higher operating speed.
Physical distancing markers have been placed inside the 19 train sets, to implement the 1-meter social distancing requirement per Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and Department of Health (DOH) guidelines.
MRT-3 Director for Operation Michael Capati said the additional trains and higher speed will help mitigate the reduction in capacity of MRT-3. He said that due to physical distancing guidelines, the MRT will only be able to accommodate 153 passengers per train set, or 13 percent of its pre-ECQ capacity of 1,182 passengers per train set.
Meanwhile, the DOTr expects to finish rail replacement works ahead of schedule after the MRT suspended operations during the lockdown.
“Rail replacement works are expected to be completed by September 2020, several months ahead of its February 2021 target completion date,” said Transportation Undersecretary TJ Batan.
Once completed, this will allow trains to gradually increase speed from 40kph to 60kph by December 2020, leading to a reduction of headway, or the time between trains, down to 3.5 minutes, Batan said.