25 October 2019, MANILA — Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), the private operator and maintenance provider of LRT line 1 has continued to upgrade the system and facilities of the country’s first and oldest railway since taking over in September 2015 spending P8.7 billion to date to rehabilitate and improve the existing LRT-1 trains and system.
From 478 trips per day in 2016, LRMC has reached 520 trips daily, serving around 500,000 passengers every day. Headway was further reduced from six minutes to four minutes in 2016 to 3.5 minutes in 2018.
LRMC President and CEO Juan Alfonso said, “We work very hard to provide safe, reliable, efficient and comfortable journey for commuters.”
New rails and stronger structure
LRMC is steadfast in improving the commuting experience of LRT-1 passengers. In January 2018, it completed the replacement of old rails that have been exposed to rail contact fatigue such as shelling and corrugations.
The 20-kilometer rail replacement from Roosevelt to Baclaran stations aims to extend rail and track component life and reduce wear on rolling stock to help increase train speeds.
Alfonso shares, “With the new rails, commuters will enjoy a smoother ride and that means improving the quality of their riding experience in LRT-1.”
With 35 years of daily operations, multiple sections of LRT-1 have suffered from cracked concrete and exposed or damaged rebars. River bridges have deteriorated.
Today, the existing 20-kilometer LRT-1 line runs proud with stronger parapets putting to rest the questions on the structural integrity of the three-decade old public utility. Concrete repairs, sandblasting to remove corrosion, repainting, installation of new collision dampers to protect bridges from ship collision were done to complete the structural defect restoration works.
Noise pollution, a common complaint by establishments and neighboring communities near LRT-1 has been addressed. Thanks to the newly installed noise barriers running along the existing line. A comparison of noise monitoring activities conducted in February 2017 and September 2019 between Tayuman and Blumentritt stations reported significant decrease to 13% of noise levels after the installation of new parapets and noise barriers–from 79.20 dB to 66.98 dB on street level and from 84.78 dB to 71 dB in viaduct during daytime.
Fully upgraded signaling system, electric supply
LRMC continues to serve the riding public through its facility and system upgrades.
The private operator eyes to complete the new signaling system for the existing LRT-1 line by November 2020. With the new signaling system, train service schedule will improve. It will also help better the passenger service by ensuring that trains arrive regularly and on-time.
“The new signaling system is what will also give us a further reduced headway of 2.5 minutes in the existing LRT-1 line and soon, the first phase of the Cavite Extension. We have automated many systems and we will continue to invest and innovate to make processes more efficient and modern,” said the LRMC President.
Meanwhile, the private operator has started the rehabilitation of its Rectifier Substation(RSS) for a brand new electric supply of LRT-1. The project covers electrical, mechanical and minor civil and architectural works.
Improved passenger experience in trains and stations
If you take LRT-1 going to work or school, chances are you have already noticed the new station and wayfinding signage in LRT-1 stations such as Vito Cruz, Baclaran, EDSA and Doroteo Jose.
Alfonso shared that LRMC invests in bringing customer delight through positive passenger experience. “We installed these signages because we want to make our stations more passenger-friendly and give it a fresher and crisp look at par with the international standards.”
Station signage in railway stations allows passengers to navigate faster and decide where to go. When they have access to right station information and platform locations, it empowers them to efficiently manage their travel time.
The wayfinding signage is what helps commuters know the nearest shopping mall, church, restaurant, museums and tourist spots from the station and in times of emergency, the hospital and police station.
While some LRT-1 first generation light rail vehicles (LRVs) are still operational when LRMC took over, several LRVs already have air-conditioning units (ACUs) issues. LRMC has ordered 120 units of brand new ACU compressors which are expected to arrive by end of 2019.
The completed improvements and ongoing rehabilitation projects of LRMC will help ensure that LRT-1 will continue to run and operate in the next 30 years or more to provide safe and reliable transport for Filipino passengers.
LRMC is a joint venture company of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation’s Metro Pacific Light Rail Corporation (MPLRC), Ayala Corporation’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corporation (AC Infra), and the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) PTE Ltd. (MIHPL). It assumed operations and maintenance of LRT-1 in September 2015 through a PhP 65-billion 32-year concession agreement with the Department of Transportation and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA).