THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation and Communications’ plan to acquire new train coaches for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 hit a fresh snag due to an apparent supply squeeze brought about by the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said the auction for the procurement of 120 new train cars for LRT-1 “failed” after Japanese train makers failed to submit offers.
He said the department was reviewing its next options, including a rebid.
The train procurement forms about half of the P65-billion LRT-1 Cavite extension public-private partnership deal.
An Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.-led consortium earlier won the contract to operate and expand the LRT-1 to Bacoor, Cavite.
The other part of that contract was a Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica)-funded loan to acquire the train cars. This means only Japanese train makers can participate.
“There’s a surge in demand for rolling stock because of the Tokyo Olympics,” Abaya said, referring to the massive infrastructure-upgrade that Japan had announced ahead of the sporting event.
The DOTC opened the auction process for the 120 trains in October last year. The original bid submission was set for Dec. 14, 2015 but this was delayed.
The delays mean the DOTC could miss deadlines for the delivery of trains under its original schedule. The coaches were supposed to be delivered in two stages: The first in 2017 and the second in 2018.
LRT-1, which handles close to half a million people a day, is being extended to Cavite province by the consortium led by Ayala and Metro Pacific-led Light Rail Manila Corp. The venture, which includes Macquarie Infrastructure, assumed operations of the LRT-1 in September last year. The line now runs from Roosevelt in Quezon City up to Baclaran in Parañaque City
The 120 train coaches would be configured in 30 four-car train sets to allow the rail line to accommodate up to 750,000 passengers daily, the DOTC said.
In the meantime, the auction for the Light Rail Transit Line 2 public private partnership deal is not pushing through today, according to the DOTC.
In its latest bid bulletin on the project, the department said the submission of bids for the operations and maintenance contract for LRT-2, was moved by a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 30 days from April 4, 2016.
It said the period starts “from the date when all final clearances and approvals have been obtained from the concerned government agencies.”
The latest delay comes amid the looming end of the Aquino administration by the end of June 2016. It was uncertain how political risks arising from the change in government leadership would affect bid proposals by potential participants.
Four groups have been pre-qualified to bid for the LRT-2 PPP deal. These were the tandem of Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., San Miguel Corp., Aboitiz Equity Ventures and the Consunji family’s DMCI Holdings.
The LRT-2 PPP deal, among those exempt from the election ban that runs from March 25 through May 8, 2016, calls for the private sector to operate and maintain the existing line for a period of 10 years, extendable by another five years.
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