Saturday, 23 June 2012

DOST’s Sec. Montejo: Train projects on track

Business Mirror

SCIENCE Secretary Mario Montejo said he expects three train-related projects to be finished by December this year.

“I’m an incurable optimist,” Montejo told reporters noting that the monorail project in the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman) campus would be up and running before the year ends.

He said the inauguration would either be before or during the university’s annual Lantern Parade in December.

Likewise, the head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) added that the department and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) would sign a deal for the repair of the latter’s 40 coaches.

Montejo’s announcement came nearly three months after he said a failed bidding process has stalled the construction of an electric train in the UP Diliman campus.

And it is nearing a year since Montejo announced on July 2011 the project for a 500-meter monorail system called Automated Guideway Transit and which costs about P22 million.

Arthur Lucas Cruz, Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) executive director, told the BusinessMirror in April that one of only two who bid for the construction of the elevated train was disqualified outright because they couldn’t meet the required standard.

“The other one was okay but upon scrutiny of their credentials, we discovered they can only build only up to 15 meters when they should be able to build up to 20 meters. Hence, we were forced to call it a failed bid last week,” Cruz said in April.

He added that their option was to go into a negotiated bid.

Montejo said the project was awarded to Miescor Builders Inc., a subsidiary of the Manila Electric Co.

“It’s not being treated as a replacement to the current transportation system in UP, that is, [Ikot and other] jeepneys,” Montejo said, adding that the mandate of the DOST is to develop technologies.

“Now, it’s up to UP or to private investors if they want to commercialize or further advance or develop the project.”

The DOST chief said that is also the case with the project with the PNR, which involves creating the motor and drive for the train coaches that remained unused since these donations by the governments of China and Korea arrived.

“We’re just developing the technology—the drive system and motor for torque—that the PNR may use so that these coaches can run again,” Montejo said.

He added that the DOST is also crafting the technology for a “road train,” which would be composed of five coaches linked together.

“We have talked with the MMDA [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] and the DOTC [Department of Transportation and Communication] about this,” Montejo said.

He explained that the “road train” would run on rubber wheels with each coach having its own engine powered by electricity and fossil fuel.

Montejo said they expect to test this mass-transport vehicle also by December on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.

The DOST has awarded the development of the first all-Filipino mass-transport system to Miescor in a ceremony on June 19 as part of this year’s celebration of the Metals and Engineering Week.

In a statement, DOST’s MIRDC said Miescor, a construction and engineering company wholly owned by the Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp., would construct the 465-meter test track in the UP Diliman campus.

The Automated Guideway Transit System (AGTS) will run on a track that curves from the C.P. Garcia Avenue near the CHED Building to the College of Arts Building.

Secretary Montejo said the AGTS will be the future of mass-transport systems and added that it is one of the DOST’s high-impact technology solutions and is the first among the DOST’s several proposed public-transportation systems for Metro Manila.

The AGTS project is being monitored by the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development.

Composing the project team are engineers from DOST-MIRDC, UP Diliman and the Project Management Engineering and Design Service Office. The team aims to create a fully automated, driverless electric transportation that travels on an elevated rail or guideway.

The guideway will stand at an elevation of 6.1 meters supported by high-quality concrete material, while the train body will be composed of two adjoining coaches, each having 30-people capacity.

The coaches will roll on rubber tires instead of metal wheels to minimize track noise, and will have bogies to ensure comfort and stability.

Jonathan Puerto, officer in charge of the office of the deputy executive director of DOST-MIRDC, said the test track in UP Diliman will help MIRDC to fine-tune the technology’s mechanisms and operation, which include speed, stability, brake distance and power, among others.

“If all goes as planned in the construction of the guideway, we will be able to initiate the testing in October,” Puerto explained.

Besides being locally developed, the DOST’s AGTS is environment-friendly as it is nonpolluting and is seen to be reliable because it is fully automated. It is considered safe as the elevated guideway is projected not to get derailed or cause road accidents and at the same time helps reduce traffic congestion.

Secretary Montejo said some countries that are reaping benefits from the AGTS technology include the United States, Japan, Singapore and Canada.

(With Ramon Lazaro)

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