First Filipino-made hybrid electric train to hit tracks in April

TRAIN OF THE FUTURE This sleek, light blue hybrid electric train is expected to join the regular fleet of the Philippine National Railways in April. Photo by Krixia Subingsubing

By Krixia Subingsubing/inquirer.net – In 2013, a team composed of 10 engineers from the Metal Industry Research and Development Center of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) were supposed to salvage parts from boogeys (undercarriages) of old Philippine National Railways (PNR) trains to improve those still running.

“Then we thought, why not make the first Filipino-made prototype for a train?” Pablo Acuin, the team leader, told the Inquirer.

In November 2015, Acuin’s team finished working on a sleek, light blue hybrid electric train (HET) that could operate on either diesel or batteries.

The P120-million electric-powered train is one of the three mass transit technologies the DOST has developed over the years.

The other two are the hybrid electric road train (without tracks) in General Santos City and the automated guided transit system (monorail) on the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

Should the new train pass validation tests (150 hours of running time with passengers on board), it would be added to the regular PNR fleet starting April 1, plying the Calamba-Alabang route, according to Jocelyn Geronimo, PNR assistant general manager.

“It’s just a matter of complying with our requirements,” Geronimo said on Monday afternoon, adding: “This means passing the validation tests, readying our people on how to operate the train and [putting] into writing a training manual for our PNR drivers.”
This is a positive development for the first Filipino-made hybrid electric train that has yet to be deployed more than three years after its completion.

Road block to deployment

Part of the problem, said Geronimo, was that the PNR was hard-pressed to provide the ideal conditions for testing its performance.

Before the validation tests, the train needed to be operated for 5,000 km without any passengers.

But the only available tracks were on the southern segment of the Tutuban-Alabang route.
With hundreds of families living along the tracks, as well as crisscrossing cables dangling overhead, it took some time for the train to rack up the required 5,000 km running hours.

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