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MRT-3 to have new safety feature

  • Written by Paul Gutierrez
  • Published in Metro

THE joint venture company currently providing operations and maintenance (O&M) to Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT 3) said it is currently building a “prototype” of an “independent” signalling system to improve operational efficiency and passenger safety.
   
In a talk with this reporter, Engr. Alan H. Ortencio, a consultant of APT-Global which won the M&O contract for the line last year, said they have made a presentation about their ‘positive train control’ system (PTCS) to MRT-3 Acting General Manager Honorito Chaneco.
   
Prior to being hired by APT/Global, Ortencio worked with the United States’ Department of Defense (DOD) with expertise in radar communications, command and control systems integration.
   
He was among the very few foreign engineers who were granted by the Pentagon the privilege to help create the ‘Aegis’ Missile Defense System.
   
His latest innovation, called “TCAS” (Train Collision Avoidance System) is a combination of global positioning system (GPS) technology, infrared closed circuit television (CCTV), very high frequency (VHF) transceivers and a visual monitor inside each train.
   
The ‘onboard’ visual aid seeks to help the operator and the MRT-3’s main operations center in knowing the real-time speed, distance and position of all trains currently using the line to include even those trains to be dispatched from their central depot in Quezon City.
   
“This system seeks to provide an environment in which the safety of MRT-3 passengers and train operations in centralized traffic control (CTC) and non-signalized direct traffic control (DTC) are significantly improved as well as providing for efficient train operations,” said Ortencio.
   
He said he is developing TCAS together with the other engineers of APT/Global.
   
“We are proud to say that this is a pure ‘invention’ by Filipinos,” Ortencio said.
   
“If approved, we would even be ahead of the United States in installing a GPS-guided tracking system in our trains,” Ortencio said, noting that US transport officials are making the installation of such a system on all trains in the United States to be mandatory starting next year.
   
Ortencio added they are providing the prototype for actual testing by the DOTC in some of the MRT-3 trains “free of charge.”
   
The MRT-3’s current signalling system is already more than 15 years old and has been prone to repeated breakdowns that delay train operations and was sometimes also the cause of accidents that injure some passengers.
   
The signalling system manufacturer, Bombadier (Canada), has already certified that it is no longer producing the spare parts for the MRT-3 due to obsolescence.
   
Ortencio added that the whole of MRT-3 has many “flaws” in its design “from the very start.”
   
“But with the TCAS, MRT-3 trains will continue to run and the passengers assured of arriving at their destination safely even if the entire signalling system breaks down,” Ortencio said.
   
Many of the problems plaguing MRT-3 from the very beginning were detailed in the so-called ‘Systra Report,’ an audit report on the MRT-3’s actual performance submitted to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as far back as 2011.
   
“Unfortunately, that report seems to be simply ignored by the government and only very few people are actually aware of its existence,” said a ranking APT/Global official who declined to be named.