DOTr: Canadian firm Bombardier to inspect MRT signalling systems by February

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said engineers from Canadian company Bombardier will inspect the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) signalling systems amid numerous technical problems.

Bombardier was the original MRT equipment manufacturer before it was replaced by former Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya during the Aquino administration.

The inspection will be conducted on February, said Transportation Assistant Secretary for Railways John Batan, while the replacement of fake parts, which the DOTr said were installed by Abaya's bogus maintenance providers, will happen in March.

"Part of their initial work when they arrive at our depot is precisely to look at the nature of all of the signalling sub-components na nailagay doon sa sistema natin throughout the six years that they were not with us," Batan said at the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability hearing on Tuesday.

An audit conducted by Bombardier on June 2017 revealed that then maintenance provider Busan Universal Rail Inc. (BURI) acquired unauthorized signaling components for periodic maintenance.

New maintenance provider

Meanwhile, the DOTr said the new company to be in charge of the rehabilitation and maintenance of the 16.9-kilometer train system will be revealed on May.

It added the Japanese government will give an official development assistance so the DOTr can allow a Japanese company to come in.

On November 2017, the government took over the MRT's maintenance from BURI due to the company's alleged failure to operate the railway efficiently.

BURI officials, as well as Cabinet officials under the Aquino administration, face plunder charges for the allegedly anomalous, ₱3.8-billion maintenance contract that the government signed with BURI.

MRT glitches slightly down

The DOTr officials revealed the number of MRT glitches has slightly decreased since it took over the maintenance of the 18-year-old train system.

From an average of 1.42 per day under BURI from January 1 to November 6, 2017, the number went down to 1.05 per day from November 7, 2017 to January 23, 2018.

The House panel, however, said it is concerned that the glitches still happen almost everyday.

Transportation officials apologized, adding they will also seek accountability from their counterparts in the previous administration.

"We sincerely apologize for the condition of the system...we are doing what we can po to restore it as soon as possible," Batan said.