The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) continued to offer its hybrid electric train as the main rail vehicle for the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

Robert Dizon, executive director of the DOST Metals Industry Research and Development Center that built the train, said the hybrid electric train was ready for use within a year after a P20-million upgrade had been completed.

After examining the DOST train, engineering firm Systra Philippines Inc. (SPI) said the vehicle had “very good potential” and required only minor tweaking to make it ready for use.

Among the areas where improvements were needed, according to SPI, were shock absorption, the braking system and lighting.

SPI said because of the conditions of PNR’s rails, the DOST train could safely travel at a speed of only 40 kph.

Launched in June last year, the P120-million train was meant as DOST’s contribution to plans to alleviate Metro Manila’s worsening road congestion.

It was also touted as proof of Filipino scientists’ and engineers’ ingenuity.

“We built this with the intent of transferring ownership to PNR,” Dizon said.

“We have no business in operating a mass transport system,” he added.

He said he hoped transportation agencies would help promote tests of the hybrid train and “push through with local technologies.”

Before its rollout, the train should first run a total distance of 5,000 km to determine safety and reliability. Testing, though, commenced only in January and was limited to just 500 meters of tracks.

It was stalled for three months as the DOST looked for a more suitable track in the PNR’s line.

In June, the train was transferred to Laguna, where the DOST was conducting eight-hour continuous testing on a 2.7-km track. The train has so far run 1,500 km.

In a recent statement, TJ Batan, assistant secretary for rails, said the DOST was still waiting for PNR action on the use of hybrid electric trains.

Junn B. Magno, PNR general manager, said the PNR had yet to conduct studies on the viability of the hybrid electric train.

But he said the hybrid electric train could ease commuter woes and also pave the way for the development of a local train industry.


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