Dost pulls out e-train in Cebu City

A P45-MILLION experimental hybrid electric train developed by the national government as a potential mode of transport in Cebu City has been transferred to General Santos City, an official said yesterday.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) 7 found out that the hybrid electric road train (HERT) is not viable for Cebu City’s current road conditions.

The DOST initially introduced HERT to Cebu in 2016 as part of the agency’s attempt to find out if it can be a viable mode of mass transportation in some cities.

Samuel Parcon, DOST 7 supervising science and research specialist, told SunStar Cebu that the 40-meter HERT was transferred to General Santos City two weeks ago.

The DOST also received a request from the local officials of General Santos to have the HERT tested there.

It will undergo a test drive in General Santos next week, said Parcon.

Parcon said the HERT’s stay in Cebu was brief as it was only for testing purposes.

After testing it twice this year, DOST has found several factors why HERT is not viable for Cebu City’s roads.

Parcon said that based on their assessment, the agency learned that the HERT can’t maneuver in some of the city’s road networks because of its smaller size.

The HERT, which consists of five interconnecting air-conditioned coaches, can hold up to more than 200 passengers per trip.

Another factor, Parcon said, is that with the current traffic situation in the Cebu City the HERT would not be an effective mode of transport.

In an earlier report, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña told reporters that maneuvering the hybrid train would be difficulty considering the traffic congestion in the city.

He earlier suggested to DOST to break the connected buses into two.

This way, it would not be difficult to swivel the vehicle and it would not cause a traffic jam, the mayor added.

Aside from that, Parcon also noted that HERT needs a designated four lanes for its exclusive use.

He said when the DOST introduced HERT to Cebu, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the agency and the Cebu City Government for its year-long promotion and testing.

It was initially kept at the old impounding area of the Cebu City Traffic Office (CCTO) at the North Reclamation Area. But flooding at the NRA damaged some parts of the HERT, forcing the DOST to transfer this at the back of the Cebu Technological University.

Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) operations head Francisco Ouano said that the hybrid e-train is no longer under the custody of the City Government.

In a phone interview, Ouano told SunStar Cebu that the DOST pulled out the vehicle from the CCTO impounding area last month.

The hybrid train was supposed to start road testing last Feb. 15 in the midtown and downtown areas.

The test run, though, didn’t push through as the train had to go through preventive maintenance after it was flooded while being kept at the old impounding area of the CCTO at the North Reclamation Area.

Designed by Filipino engineers and made with locally available parts, the HERT was touted by DOST as a possible answer to the worsening mass transportation problem in some parts of the country, especially in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

Developed by the DOST’s Metal Industry Research and Development Center, the HERT can run with a maximum speed of 50 kilometers per hour and is powered by a hybrid diesel fuel and electric-powered battery.

It can serve up to 650,000 commuters when fully implemented. (JKV/RTF)

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