As part of the government?s effort to address the country?s worsening traffic problem, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said it has commenced the testing of a hybrid electric train, which it locally developed and fabricated.
The new trainset, which uses diesel and batteries for its power system, is intended for use by the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
The Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), an attached unit of the DOST that is leading the initiative, said that unlike the LRT and the MRT which uses ?catenary and pantograph? as a power source, the hybrid train system has a regenerative braking system that stores up energy to the battery bank.
A pantograph is an apparatus mounted on the roof of an electric train, tram, or electric bus to collect power through contact with an overhead catenary wire.
Under the term of DOST secretary Mario Montejo, the agency has undertaken research and development initiatives for the transportation sector. Among these projects are the automated guideway transit system and the hybrid electric road train.
According to a JICA study, ?the Philippines is losing P2.4 billion a day in potential income due to traffic congestion that eats up time that could have been used for productive pursuits?.
The MIRDC said the project also aims to create a comprehensive material selection process for the local production of the parts of the train, which could develop the metals and engineering industries.
The new trainset?s chassis and coach will be manufactured locally and will feature fully air-conditioned cabins, as well as wide automatic sliding doors.
The MIRDC said each coach of the hybrid train will have an estimated sitting capacity of 31 passengers although the normal loading capacity will be 169 passengers (6 persons per square meter) per coach. Thus, the whole trainset will have 676 passengers per trainset.
On the other hand, the MRT and the LRT have a normal loading capacity of 240 passengers per coach, while the PNR can accommodate 200 passengers per coach.
The hybrid train, which will have an operating speed of 60 kph and maximum speed of 80 kph, has estimated developmental cost of P120 million. The DOST said, however, that manufacturing cost will be lower than the developmental cost.
The science agency said hybrid train is currently undergoing on functional test for the prototype trainset. ?After the functional tests, performance tests will be conducted. This includes loading, braking distance and endurance testing,? the MIRDC said, adding that the testing will be conducted at PNR Caloocan.
The performance testing and evaluation is projected to last for six months, according to the DOST, which is planning to localize other parts of the train.