(SDN) — NO hitches, major or otherwise.
That’s referring to the 60 minutes inaugural run of the Php120-million Hybrid Electric Train (HET) which made its official public debut at the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Alabang Station in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, to the Biñan Station in Laguna.
At last, the HET has found a home!
Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) headed by Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, Undersecretary for Research and Development (R&D) Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, and others, PNR executives led by Operations Department Manager Joseline Geronimo, and private sector leaders, as well as some commuting public rode the Filipino-made five-coach train from Alabang to Biñan Station in Laguna.
Exactly at 10:10 a.m.on April 24, the pre-set schedule of the run, the HET hit the tracks bound for Binan. After a successful run, the DOST and PNR officials cut the ribbon and had a toast for the trainset.
Soon it hit the tracks again for the Alabang Station at T. Molina street, just beside Star Mall.
The Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) headed by Executive Director Robert O. Dizon is at the head of the designed, development, and assembly of the trainset. He is an engineer.
He said that except for the bogie of which the HET has 10 under it, all the materials used were locally-sourced and manufactured by an all-Filipino team of engineers.
Dizon said the entirety of the trainset cost Php120 million, with P50 million of the amount spent for the 10 bogies at Php5 million each.
He said if there are many demand for bogies, it could be manufactured in the Philippines.
The three companies responsible for the construction of the electric vehicle, Fil-Asia, B.J. Martel, and Industrial Control Corporation have already formed a consortium in anticipation of orders for production of HET.
Photo: Henri de Leon of DOST-STII.
HET is the product of “the genius of our Filipino scientists,” she emphasized.
Just how did the hybrid vehicle came about relates to the English language proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Guevara, fondly called by friends as “Usec Guev” or “Dr. Guev”, narrated how.
Before climbing the department’s promotion ladder, she headed the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Department (PCIEERD), now dubbed the Innovation Council of the DOST.
Guevara recalled at the HET’s inauguration that the leadership of the PNR in 2013 penned a letter to the DOST requesting the MIRDC to repair locomotives donated to PNR by another country.
And the DOST-MIRDC’s response?
“We will not repair your trains. We will just build a train for you. So, here it is now the DOST Hybrid Electric Train,” Guevara recalled, adding HET is the product of MIRDC’s promise to PNR.
She said HET was created out of the “genius of our Filipino scientists (and researchers).”
She emphasized the department has been looking for solutions to the country’s problems concerning the myriads of challenges facing citizens going to work, among them traffic congestion, crowded and overloaded public utility vehicles, and pollution.
“We are losing money as much as we are losing time in traffic,” Guevara said. “Now, we have this opportunity to run this train on the PNR tracks.”
Supported by PCIEERD, the MIRDC, she said, has proposed a long-term sustainable solution to meet the country’s increasing transportation problem.
She said HET has five coaches, one for the pilot or driver, another for the power components, and three coaches for passengers (around 175 each coach each way).
Photo: Henri de Leon of DOST-STII.
That’s not all.
“Later, we will also introduce other hybrid vehicles, even with smart technological applications that will help our traffic enforcement (perform their job),” Guevara said.
“We at DOST believe that technology and innovation can provide a mode of transportation that will cater to all the segments of society, most especially the bottom of the pyramid.”
Geronimo, in interview with SDN — Science and Digital News, said the performance test, which is Stage 1, conducted recently on the HET with sandbags as “passengers” did not have any major problem.
The PNR official said the inaugural run from Alabang to Binan did not face any problem either.
But she hinted that the true test of HET would be the Validation Test for 19 days from May 6 to 24 when it will be taking in full passenger capacity.
“We will monitor every aspect, such as its power if its in full capacity, its breaking capacity, its breaking distance, its stopping. We will see when its passengers are people and use it to its maximum,” said Geronimo.
She said they will announce the rules on how commuters can avail themselves of the Validation Test which is free to the public.
For every station, the number of passengers will be pre-determined to give opportunity to everyone, she added.
After the 19 days of validation runs, Geronimo said PNR will assess HET’s performance for every hour of the 150 hours required Validation Test. “We will release the results afterwards.”
“So far, so good in all aspects. We will recommend it and we will it constructed if they give us funds,” said Geronimo. “We should we spend Php300 million for a trainset if we can have it for Php150 million.”
She was referring to the trainsets of the PNR manufactured by Indonesia for Php300 million each. (SDN)
Featured picture of Hybrid Electric Train (HET) courtesy of Henri de Leon of DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute)
This story may require some updates, including additional photographs.