DOTC: Probe into train accident to be completed by next week

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Friday, August 15, 2014

THE Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is eyeing to complete the investigation on the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) train mishap by early next week, an official said Friday.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the fact-finding investigation into the MRT-3 accident is expected to submit its findings on August 19.

"In the meantime, we cannot speculate on the events that led to the unfortunate incident. We find it more prudent to await the results of the investigation instead of forming a mere opinion on whether it was a human error or a technical malfunction," he said.

"The committee will examine the train coaches' blackbox-like device, CCTV recordings from the station, the testimonies of the two drivers, and eyewitness reports of passengers and bystanders who witnessed the accident. It will also conduct simulations and interview control center personnel," he added.

The investigating committee is led by DOTC Undersecretary for Operations Edwin Lopez, with members from the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the Office for Transportation Security (OTS). Its probe is separate from that being conducted by the Philippine National Police.

At least 38 passengers were hurt when a train overshot the railway last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the DOTC disputed MRT Holdings II’s claim that the Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC) has not been allowed to conduct a technical audit of the rail system.

This proposal of MRTC was granted by the MRT-3 Office as early as June 2014, Abaya said. As a result, the rail system will also undergo a "baseline review" or technical audit, through a third party independent expert procured MRTC, he said.

MRT Holdings II is the controlling shareholder of MRTC. It is the private company which sued the DOTC earlier this year, seeking to stop the agency from expanding the MRT-3 system’s capacity with its purchase of 48 brand new light rail vehicles (LRVs) or train coaches. The DOTC won that case at the Regional Trial Court of Makati last February, and recently won at the Court of Appeals as well.

"MRT-3 improvements should have been done many years ago. We have been exercising political will to implement these upgrades which MRT Holdings II failed to deliver over the past decade, since the riding public deserves better," Abaya said.

"Together with the DOF (Department of Finance), we are also speeding up the buyout of MRTC so that MRT Holdings II can no longer block government’s improvement efforts. This will free the rail facility up from long-standing legal issues and allow the DOTC to upgrade the rail line without disruptions caused by MRT Holdings II," he said.

Apart from the addition of 48 coaches, which will be delivered in tranches from August 2015 until 2017, the DOTC’s capacity expansion project for MRT-3 also involves the upgrading of its signaling system and other ancillary facilities. The DOTC is already procuring the ancillary services component and is preparing the bid for the signaling system upgrade. (SDR/Sunnex)

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