MANILA (Mabuhay) – Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Thursday said they are still determining whether human error or failure of materials caused the coupling disconnection of the coaches of a Metro Rail Transit train that rammed through a steel barricade of the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City before 5 p.m. Wednesday, and left at least 50 people injured.
“We have yet to find out what really happened – it could have been a human procedural error that the proper couple procedure was not followed. Although possibly, there could have been a failure in the coupling material. That is currently being investigated,” Abaya said.
At least 50 people, including a six-month-old baby, were hurt in the mishap.
Many of those injured were women, as front-end coaches of the MRT trains are reserved for women, children and the elderly, it added.
Quoting a passenger, the report said many of the passengers began to sense that something was wrong when they saw a spark while the train was passing the Magallanes station in Makati.
The MRT administration has since apologized for the incident.
When asked if the incident could have been prevented if authorities followed the recommendations of an audit report done on the MRT system in 2013, Abaya said it has nothing to do with Wednesday’s incident.
“The rail grinding would have nothing to do with the stopper… The need for rail grinding is to ensure that the materials used from the very start was good and likewise to smoothen out the rails, so as to limit the bumps,” Abaya said.
“As regards to the procurement [of the machine], we have procured that… it’s currently ongoing… I have to check its current status. But the initial challenge there is the needed rail grinding machine was not available in the country. There was a single entity who had this, and we had to negotiate with him and make it available,” he added.
The MRT 3 is operated by a private firm, the Metro Rail Transit Corporation, in partnership with the Department of Transportation and Communications.
It connects North Avenue to Taft Avenue in Pasay via Epifanio delos Santos Avenue. It ferries about 500,000 passengers a day though it has a rated capacity of only 350,000.
The train has suffered glitches in the past, and its aging coaches have been the subject of several complaints from commuters. (MNS)