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Public praises DOTr for Dalian trains deployment but criticizes Former President Benigno Aquino III for buying them

Aquino bought 48 trains back in 2015 for 3.8 billion pesos and was highly criticized for it.

Netizens are calling out the critics of former president Benigno Aquino III for praising the Department of Transportation (DOTr) after it was able to make the Dalian trains operate smoothly.

Aquino bought 48 trains back in 2015 for 3.8 billion pesos and was highly criticized for it.

A video by a doctor named Joey Hernandez MD (@joefranc) showed him riding the MRT 3 and everything looked great. Although he didn’t confirm it, netizens assumed he was inside a Dalian train.

Even Teddy Locsin Jr. praised the DOTr.

The Dalian trains did garner praise from the public, but some felt like they needed to remind others that this was Aquino’s initiative.

The Duterte administration previously claimed that the trains couldn’t operate due to the incompatibility with the MRT-3 train tracks, but is now running with no visible problems.

People still remember how the current administration refused to utilize the trains.

President Rodrigo Duterte politicized the entire issue which made Aquino look even worse.

Senator Grace Poe also played a part in politicizing the Dalian trains.

The trains could’ve been actually used back in 2016, but the DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade decided not to proceed with operating them.

The DOTr previously stated that one Dalian train has the capacity of taking in 1,050 passengers.

Due to the issues of the trains’ incompatibility with the MRT3 railway systems, the operation of the trains was delayed for several years.

However, in a February 2018 Senate hearing, an expert said that the trains are “not overweight” for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) tracks.

Rolf Bieri, who used to work as a consultant for former MRT3 maintenance provider Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corporation said that the MRT3 tracks can carry up to 10 tons and a single Dalian train weighs only 9.4 tons.

“We retain the limit required by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the axle load for the track. The axle load [of Dalian trains] is 9.4 tons but the track system is designed for 10 tons. So where is the problem for overload?” he said.

Tugade in 2018 defended the DOTr after MRT3’s ridership and revenue decreased by 26 percent.

Dapat ‘yung Kagawaran ng Transportasyon, huwag n’yong husgahan sa isang sektor ng kagawaran. Huwag n’yo kaming husgahan sa MRT. Huwag mo kaming husgahan sa isolated cases.” he said during the ceremonial turnover of the operations and management of the Clark International Airport to the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp.

The lack of trains caused the lowest ticket sales in history two years ago.

The Commission on Audit (COA) released a report citing train availability as one of the major factors.

  • Train availability in the past year only had an average of 13 out of 24 trains in operation, in contrast to the number of trains in previous years which was 15 during off-peak hours and 20 during peak hours.
  • The decrease in train availability was caused by the termination of the maintenance service contract of Busan Joint Venture, which was in turn taken over by the DOTr-MRT3 Maintenance Transition Team.
  • Despite having completed the Independent Safety Audit and Assessment by TUV Rheinland Philippines, the 48 Dalian trains that were to increase train availability remained inoperable for an indefinite period.
  • While 2018 saw the lowest number of recorded incidents in the last 4 years in terms of train removals, service interruptions, and passenger unloadings, this was also because of the decrease in train availability.

Tugade however said that the losses in revenue should be attributed to the maintenance and rehabilitation expenses.

The COA stated that revenue loss affects the public and also government funds.

“The cases in point do not only deny the riding public of an efficient, effective, and secured transportation systems but undoubtedly impacted on revenue collections, depriving the government of additional financial resources for payment of the MRT3 equity rentals,” the report said.

The revenues from passenger fares and equity rental fees fund employee and administrative expenses. A bigger government subsidy would be needed if the DOTr is not able to self-finance the payments.

The Dalian trains first test run happened from January to February 2019, three years after they were bought by Aquino.

Written by Charles Teves

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