The LRT-2 traverses from Santolan in Rizal to Recto in Manila. (Philstar.com/Miguel de Guzman)

The LRT-2, two stations of which caught fire last week, is actually not light rail line but rather, a heavy rail train system that traverses from the east to the west of Metro Manila.

Line 2’s trains and overall infrastructure are bigger and more sophisticated than that of the other two, the line 1 of Light Rail Transit and the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 or MRT.

Moreover, this “Megatren” is also the only train system that goes through the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue.

These comparisons were emphasized by Julius Dalay, chair of advocacy group Commuters of the Philippines, when he explained that LRT-2 is a misnomer.

“Line 2 is not actually an LRT; it’s actually what we experts calls as MRT—the true MRT. It’s not light rail system, it’s a heavy rail metro system,” Dalay Philstar.com.

Despite the number of passengers it carries, the maintenance of the Megatren is often overlooked in favor of the LRT-1 and MRT-3, both of which are similarly bogged down with technical problems.

LRT-2 should be called an MRT

Line 2 or the Purple Line is a heavy rail transit system comparable to the advanced subways and train stations of Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

The Transit Cooperative Research Program defined heavy rail as “a transit system using trains of high-performance, electrically powered rail cars operating in exclusive rights-of-way, usually without grade crossings, with high platform stations.”

Meanwhile, light rail, which is LRT-1, only operates with single cars or short trains “along exclusive rights-of-way at ground level, aerial structures, in subways or occasionally in streets, and to board and discharge passengers at track or car floor level.”

LRT-2 is currently operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority and is named as such even on the .

Line 2 is also supposed to be the first subway system in the Philippines given that it has “the capacity of a heavy volume of traffic” and designed for operations in “in tunnel, viaducts or on surface level,” another advocacy group “This is MRT-2” also .

It enumerated some pieces of evidence on why authorities should change LRT-2 into its correct name, MRT-2.

  1. The magnetic tickets and maps during its earlier operations from 2001 to 2009 showed that Line 2 as ““MRT Line 2/Purple Line/Megatren.”
  2. In Araneta-Cubao station, there is a mock-up label seen from one of the pathways from the train leading to Gateway Mall called MRT II.
  3. There are golden yellow signs seen in all the stations stated the system project’s name “Metropolitan Manila Strategic Mass Rail Transit Line 2.”
  4. Asia-Europe MRT Consortium, the consortium that built its infrastructure, indicated before that the planned system was an MRT.
  5. The stations felt similar than those from subway stations of other countries and far different from other two major train systems.

Dalay inferred that the use of the incorrect term might be the reason authorities failed to acquire the right parts to fix and maintain the Megatren.

“If you’re gonna look back further at LRT mandate, nakasulat kasi dun na may provision dun on tax exemption on LRT parts and service. Going back to the point, possible na di maipasok ng LRTA ‘yung clause na ‘yun sa prinoprocure na parts sa Line 2 simply because naka-light rail system,” Dalay said.

Contingency plan

Last October 3, LRT-2’s rectifier-transformer located between Katipunan and Anonas stations tripped and caught fire, which caused operations to shut down over the weekend and stranded thousands of passengers.

LRTA also announced that operations from Santolan to Anonas are suspended for the next nine months.

To help affected passengers, authorities deployed 30 buses and 20 modernized public utility vehicles from 5 am to 10:30 pm starting Monday October 7 from Santolan to Cubao.

“LRTA vows to resume LRT 2 operations partially from Cubao to Recto once the signalling, telecommunications and power supply systems and the trains are cleared and in normal condition,” part of LRTA’s announcement on Facebook read.

READ: The Light Rail Transit Authority appeals for understanding as it will not be able to start partial commercial…

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Some Filipinos, particularly commuters from Rizal, expressed their frustration over the inconvenience online.