Months ago, experts warned MRT was unsafe

Posted at 08/13/14 5:54 PM

MANILA – An accident waiting to happen.

This was the warning given months ago by several experts who had been urging authorities to upgrade the system and reassess the rails of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3).

Back in April, the former maintenance contractor of the MRT-3 said the system’s rails were already showing signs of "metal fatigue."

Rolf Bieri, rail consultant of Comm Builders and Technology Philippines Corp., said the trains were merely running safe on “quick stop solutions” implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

"The rail and rail support has to be upgraded. I would even suggest to do some examination of the superstructure of the whole system," he said in an interview with ANC.

As early as 2013, a railway expert also said that riding both the MRT and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) had become dangerous, noting that their facilities were poorly maintained and the software technologies used to operate the trains by remote control were already obsolete.

Rene Santiago, a civil engineer, said the MRT was still using the same operating system since it started in 2003.

He also raised the need to upgrade the computer system that operates the railways by remote control because thousands of lives are at stake in every trip.

“Every journey at MRT 3 is now a risky trip. We are tempting faith when we take that ride. Every day we ride, we pray that no accident would happen,” he said back then.

On Wednesday, Santiago's fears were realized after an MRT train overshot its track at the intersection of Taft and EDSA Avenue, resulting to numerous injuries.

The train, which was reportedly packed with rush hour commuters, derailed and hit the barrier of the MRT station.

Atty. Hernando Cabrera, MRT-3 and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) spokesman, said authorities are now investigating the incident.

“We are looking if it was caused by human error,” he said.

The MRT currently has about 60 trains, which service some 500,000 commuters daily, way beyond its capacity of 300,000.