The harrowing incident at the Metro Rail Station Line 3 (MRT3) Station in Ayala where a woman almost lost her arm after falling onto the train tracks could probably have been avoided if only the station was equipped with a platform screen doors (PSD) which other countries have had for years.
On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) revealed that even prior to the accident, the government had already been studying the possibility of using such a technology in Philippine railways.
In an interview with GMA News Online on Wednesday, Transportation Undersecretary for Rails Cesar Chavez said that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had ordered him to assure that future railway projects of the government will have platform screen doors.
"Pinag-aaralan namin 'yon, ayoko munang magbigay ng [detalye]... Even before this incident, while we were visiting the subway in Japan, he already instructed me and the rail sector to ensure that platform screen doors be installed in the future railway projects," Chavez said.
"So mayroon tayong Chinese funded projects na riles, mayroon tayong Japanese funded projects, mayroon tayong soon to be ay private unsolicited proposal projects," he added.
Platform screen doors which had been considered by the government as early as 2013 after an apparent suicide could have prevented the latest incident.
Other countries like Russia, the United States, United Kingdom, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong have platform screen doors in their metro railway systems. Russia is said to be the first country ever to install platform doors in its train station.
There are commonly two types of PSDs: a full-height barrier (floor to ceiling) and a half-height barrier called a platform edge door.
Such sliding doors not only prevent people from falling onto the tracks but also reduce wind produced by a speeding train that might cause people to lose their balance on the platform.
The PSDs are also equipped with a signaling system that allows the platform sliding doors and the train doors to open and close at the same time.
Not easy to install PSDs in PHL
Angeline Fernando, 24, of Pasay City, almost lost her right arm in an accident at the MRT-3 Ayala station in Makati City on Tuesday around 2:30 p.m.
Fernando, a senior quality engineer at an information technology company based in Makati, had just alighted from the northbound train and felt dizzy, causing her to fall onto the tracks.
Surgeons of Makati Medical Center was able to reattach her severed arm. She will be under observation until Friday according to Chavez.
Chavez said it would not be easy to install platform screen doors in our current railway system as there are many factors to be considered, especially funding.
"Dito sa MRT pinagaaralan namin 'yon, hindi pa kaming pwedeng mag-category lang, sapagkat hindi basta basta pwedeng maglagay ng platform screen door, 'pag ginawa mo 'yan, sarado ang operasyon mo ng MRT-3," he said.
"So hindi naman pwede 'yan kasi may electrical components 'yan, may signalling 'yan, kailangan bumukas yung pinto ng bagon, dapat nakabukas din ang pinto ng platform screen door," Chavez said.
"It will take time, 'pag gabi mo naman ginawa 'yan, ilang oras mo lang pwedeng gawin 'yan. So ang pinakamahusay niyan, yung gagawin pa lang na mga railway projects isabay na," he further said.
Meanwhile, Chavez said Fernando's case was an isolated incident and considered an accident, as opposed to past cases of suicide attempts.
He added that there were only three suicide attempts during his term as deputy administrator of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LTRA) from 2004 to 2010.
"Aksidente kasi yung nangyari kasi, sinusunod naman yung yellow lane natin, ito talaga aksidente eh, gumegewang gewang siya. Akalain mo ba namang mahuhulog siya doon mismo sa pagitan ng pangalawa at pangatlong bagon, may space doon, doon siya mismo na-shoot," Chavez said.
"So kumabaga... masyadong bihirang pangyayari itong nangyari kay Angeline," he said.
Chavez also called on MRT-3 passengers to immediately call for assistance if needed when alighting or boarding the trains.
"So ang importante siguro dito, yung call namin sa mga passengers, senior citizen, buntis at pati na lahat ng klaseng taong may karamdaman, 'pag talagang gusto nilang sumakay, sabihin na sa gwardiya na may sakit sila nang, sa ganon yung gwardiya ma-raradyo sa destination niya na alalayan siya sa pagbaba," he added. — MDM, GMA News