The country’s first locally developed train will start running next year.
Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the automated guideway transit (AGT) would operate in Bicutan, Taguig, as a mass-transit system.
A prototype of the AGT had a test run on the University of the Philippines campus at Diliman in Quezon City on Dec. 14.
In a recent talk with reporters, Montejo said the AGT service would be a joint venture between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the city government of Taguig.
The DOST will build a 500-meter elevated track in Bicutan and the Taguig government will add a 2-kilometer stretch to it, Montejo said.
The train will run from the crossing rotunda near the DOST compound in Bicutan and over Circumferential Road-6 (C-6) along Laguna de Bay.
Montejo said the DOST had allocated P40 million for the construction of the 500-m section of the AGT track.
The amount does not include the cost of two coaches, which Montejo said would be as spacious as those used on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 2 line.
Developed by DOST engineers in cooperation with UP experts, the electric train will undergo a series of test runs until June next year in preparation for actual operations.
The train runs on 465-m-long elevated track on the UP campus.
According to the DOST, the goal of the project is to have a fully automated, emission-free transportation system capable of ferrying up to 60 passengers per trip.
Montejo said the fact that the AGT is running is already an accomplishment for its designers and engineers.
The entire system was designed and manufactured by Filipinos, using locally available materials.
Montejo said the prototype cost about P55 million. The track cost about P22 million and the two locally built coaches, P9 million. Research and development cost about P24 million.
Still, the AGT cost only about a fifth of the cost of acquiring a similar foreign-made train, according to the DOST.
“Why is it cheaper? It’s like using generic against branded,” Montejo said.
He said several parties—including at least one local government, two big industry players and one private developer—have shown interest in the AGT.
“We just developed it and then others should pick it up,” he said.
But more than creating a Philippine-made train, the greater goal of the project is to enable Filipino engineers to develop the expertise to design and operate a mass transit system, Montejo said.