The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Government of Philippines signed a JPY 17.4 billion (USD 124.78 million) loan agreement for the rehabilitation of Manila MRT-3 line, phase II. The loan agreement was approved by Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in February 2023 to finance the increase of the total project’s value to PHP 29.6 billion (USD 527.1 million), following the additional scope of work submitted by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The agreement was signed by Philippines Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and JICA’s Chief Representative in the Philippines Sakamoto Takema on May 26, 2023 in Manila. The Embassy of Japan to the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Matsuda Kenichi, the Economic Minister Nihei Daisuke, the Undersecretary for Legal Affairs of Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr) Reinier Paul Yebra and the Assistant Secretary for Railways and Manila MRT-3 Officer-in-Charge Jorjette Aquino, witnessed the ceremonial signing.
The second phase of the rehabilitation project aims at improving the safety and service level of Metro Rail Transit Line 3, which has suffered successive operational suspensions, among other issues. The project involves the increase of line’s capacity including rolling stock, tracks, signalling system, power supply system, overhead catenary system (OCS), communications system, and depot and station equipment. Thus, this phase of the project comprises of the integration and capacity expansion, the complete rehabilitation of the line, operation and maintenance concession dovetailing with the expiry of the Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) agreement in 2025 and addition and extension of maintenance works to account for the six-month period of community quarantine due to the pandemic.
The rehabilitation project is expected to be completed in July 2025.
Manila MRT-3 is the major elevated railway line that runs along the city’s busiest route. It is a 16.9 km line system with 13 stations with three elevated in Manila spanning along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA highway corridor) from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City.
Following the funding agreement, the Department of Transportation and Sumitomo Corporation signed a 26 month-extension contract for the rehabilitation of the line on May 30, 2023. Sumitomo Corporationm is the original designer, builder and initial maintenance provider of MRT-3 which ensured the continued enhancement of the rail line’s operational efficiency. The Japanese company will continue to be the maintenance and rehabilitation provider of the mass transit line until July 2025, together with their technical partner, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The rehabilitation works which were not initially identified during the original rehabilitation project’s rapid scoping, are also covered in the contracts.
The scope of the new contract has been expanded to include the extension of rail lines and the installation of signals to the Common station, which is shared with other lines, and the expansion of the pocket track necessary for increasing the number of railcars in a train, in addition to the maintenance of the main line.
The rehabilitation and maintenance extension contract covers technical system support, maintenance, spare parts procurement, as well as the provision of other rehabilitation and capacity expansion services to MRT-3, to improve the system’s service reliability, capacity, and long-term sustainability.
Sumitomo will enhance the line’s operation efficiency by using longer trains, from the existing three-car vehicles to four-car trains. “This maintenance extension contract will manifest our determination to keep our public transport safe, efficient and convenient. This will allow more passengers to use the services on the EDSA corridor, complementing the convenience offered by the EDSA Bus Carousel,” DOTr Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said.
It is expected that the capacity of the line will increase from 350,000 passengers to more than 500,000. The first four-car train entered operation in March 2022 and has a capacity of up to 1,576 passengers.
In addition, during the signing ceremony, a 30-month extension of rehabilitation and maintenance supervision consultant contract was approved and signed between the DOTr and the Oriental Consultants Global Co., Ltd. (OCG) and Tonichi Engineering Consultants Inc. The contract which will be implemented until October 2025 covers the supervision of rehabilitation and maintenance works, as well as the project close out of the Sumitomo Corporation.
PHP 7.64 billion (USD 136 million) is the value of the two contracts.
The first phase of MRT-3 rehabilitation has been completed in December 2021 and in March 2022 a ceremony was held at Shaw Boulevard station to officially celebrate the completion of the works. In November 2018, the Japan Embassy to the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs of Philippines signed an agreement for the provision of a loan of JPY 38.1 billion (USD 273.2 million, in current prices) for the rehabilitation of MRT-3. MHI Group and Sumitomo Corporation agreed on a new contract for rehabilitation and maintenance in 2019, carrying out large-scale rehabilitation of all railcars and facilities with declined rates of operation, without interfering with ordinary operation, to restore the line’s safety and stability, and completed general overhauling of all 72 railcars by February 2023. The companies contributed to improving the operating rate of the line by increasing operating speeds from 30 km/h to 60 km/h, and the number of train sets in service from 10 to 15 trainsets, to 18 to 20 trains.
In the past, line’s tracks and rolling stock deteriorated due to a lack of proper maintenance, resulting in reduced transport capacity and frequent operational problems. Drastic rehabilitations were carried out as part of the Phase 1 project, restoring the line’s safety, comfort, and high-speed using Japanese knowledge and technology.
In the Phase II of the project Japan will assist the MRT-3’s continued maintenance and will connect it to the Common station for passengers’ seamless transfer to LRT-1, MRT-7 and the Metro Manila Subway. Sumitomo aims at strengthening its position on Philippines rail market. The company has acquired 19.2% shares in Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), the operator of LRT-1.