Eco-Mobility and Empowered Sustenance

Is the first Filipino-made hybrid electric train the solution to Metro Manila’s traffic jam, and perennial air pollution?

Traffic. It’s the one thing we sure can live without. And it certainly costs us city dwellers both time and hard-earned money. Annual losses due to traffic in the Philippines is projected to go up to 1.944 trillion pesos. In Metro Manila alone, the economic loss has been pegged at 3.5 billion pesos a day, and will go up to 6 billion pesos by 2030 if the traffic is not improved.

On April 24, 2019, the Department of Science and Technology held its inaugural run of the first Filipino-made hybrid electric train, one of the three mass transport solutions that the Department has been pushing.

Dost Secretary Fortunato Boy T. dela Pena said the mass transport solutions include the Automated Guideway Transit, the Hybrid Electric Train, and the Hybrid Electric Road Train.

Augmenting the number of trainsets now being used by the Philippine National Railways, the Hybrid Electric Train, or HET, is envisioned to be a long-term solution to traffic congestion in many parts of the country.

The other two mass transport systems in the pipeline are the Automated Guideway Transit, or AGT,  a locally fabricated system designed to lessen travel time and promote an environment-friendly mass transit. Cheaper than its imported counterparts like the LRT and the MRT, the AGT also has slimmer dimensions and can be built along narrow streets. The 40-meter long train-like bus has a maximum speed of 50 kph, and will be powered by diesel fuel and electric-powered battery. Moreover, the hybrid train is designed to be energy-efficient, and will not need to be connected to suspended electric cables to operate.

Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DoST’s undersecretary for research and development, revealed that the advantages of DOST-developed mass transport technologies is unmatched by the current imported trains. These advantages include availability of all parts and local experts to maintain and repair, cost effectiveness, modernization of local mass transportation, job generation, foreign exchange savings and potential for export.

She added that the AGT costs just one-fifth the capital expenditure and maintenance of imported trains, and that our own engineers can maintain and troubleshoot the AGTs.

Guevara said that the HERT involves a consortium of 30 Filipino manufacturers, and that this consortium can finish the 267 trains in two years. These HERTs route can travel the Caloocan to Monumento and Mall of Asia route in just one hour, with 20-second stops every kilometre. Every 44 seconds, a HERT would pass by the route.

If you’ve been to other developed countries, you can’t help but admire their efficient mass transport systems, especially their trains. These new trains developed by our very own science and technology department may just be the way for us to catch up, and be at par with the mass transport systems of the developed world. The real question now is, will our leaders have the political will to actually set these plans into motion?