MANILA – The rehabilitation work for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) is expected to start in January, an official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said Monday.

“Transition is already ongoing up to December; the full mobilization will be by January,” DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

This follows last Thursday’s signing of the PHP18-billion (38-billion Japanese yen) loan agreement for the MRT rehabilitation project by the Department of Finance and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The loan agreement covers the repair and maintenance of the MRT-3’s electromechanical components, power supply, rail tracks, and depot equipment, and the overhaul of its 72 light rail vehicles.

The DOTr has earlier said that Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will take over the rehabilitation and maintenance of MRT-3.

Sumitomo-Mitsubishi designed and built the railway system from 1998 to 2000 and maintained the system from 2000 to 2012.

The DOTr expects an improvement in the MRT operations starting in the third quarter of next year, with the gradual increase of its passenger capacity.

It also projects the speed of the MRT trains to improve from 30 km. per hour (kph) to 60 kph, with its headway time reduced from the current seven minutes to 3.5 minutes.

The number of trains is also expected to increase by 20 train sets from the current 15 trains during peak hours.

The upgrade of the MRT-3 will take about 43 months, with the first 26 months focused on the rehabilitation of the entire system.

The 16-km. MRT rail line from North Ave. in Quezon City to Taft Ave. in Pasay City currently accommodates an average of 300,000 passengers per day.  (PNA)