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COA: 48 Dalian trains for MRT3 remain unused

The 48 sets of Dalian trains procured by the Philippine government to expand the operations of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) remained unused due to unresolved incompatibility issues with the rail system, state auditors said.

In its 2022 audit report on the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Commission on Audit (COA) said the 48 Dalian train sets procured in 2014 remained idle and not operational "due to the non-completion of the proposed Way-Forward Plan as well as the testing, commissioning, and final acceptance of the light rail vehicles (LRVs)."

The continued non-operation of the Dalian trains is "depriving the riding public of the benefits of a more comfortable transportation system,'' COA said.

The procurement of Dalian trains was aimed at increasing the capacity of the MRT3 to 800,000 passengers per day and decongesting the rail system.

The DOTr and CRRC Dalian Co., Ltd. entered into a contract for the design, supply, and delivery of 48 LRVs for a contract cost of P3,759,382,400.00 and an implementation period of February 26, 2014, to January 20, 2017.

The trains were delivered in 2016 but remained idle due to incompatibility issues.

In 2019, the COA said that nine out of 48 LRVs were issued with a Provisional Acceptance Certificate, with the Final Acceptance Certificate to be issued only after the speed restriction on MRT3 as contained in the 43-month contract, or Rehabilitation and Maintenance Agreement (RMA), executed on December 28, 2018, with Sumitomo Corporation, is lifted—after completion of its track replacement and satisfactory performance of the subject LRVs is demonstrated at MRT3’s design speed of 60 kilometers per hour throughout the entire main line.

"Our verification of the operational deployment of the nine provisionally accepted Dalian trains and the remaining 39 LRVs needing commissioning and testing revealed that no LRVs are currently operational on the mainline due to RMA restrictions," state auditors said.

"Needless to say, the uncompleted implementation of the proposed Way-Forward Plan for the LRV’s eventual regular operational deployment, as well as the final acceptance of the nine LRVs and the testing, commissioning, and acceptance of the other 39 LRV Dalian trains, prevented the agency [from maximizing] the utilization thereof, thereby depriving the riding public of the benefits of a more comfortable transportation system," COA said.

State auditors recommended for the DOTr to follow up with CRRC Dalian on the concerns on "rectification relative to the Tare Weight and Depot Maintenance Equipment Compatibility as well as the pending Overhaul training relative to the Second Operating Condition Reliability Run Scope of the Way-Forward Plan."

The COA also recommended active coordination with CRRC Dalian and Sumitomo Corporation for the necessary activities to fast-track the completion of the Way-Forward Plan to fully utilize the LRVs and ultimately for the riding public to obtain the benefits for which these LRVs were procured.

"However, management (DOTr) has yet to receive a response from CRRC Dalian on its request for rectification," it said.

In its comment, the DOTr said that the process to revisit the Tare Weight and Depot Maintenance Compatibility would be expedited to eventually enable deployment, operation, and use of the LRVs. — VBL, GMA Integrated News