GenSan eyed as pilot area for electric train

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — After getting the nod of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as trial site for its “train-like-bus” dubbed hybrid electric road train (Hert), this city will get another chance to be among the first in the country to test another transport innovation of the agency.

City Councilor Dominador Lagare Jr., chair of the city council’s committee on transportation, said Thursday DOST has offered to deploy in the city by next year the locally designed and developed hybrid electric train (HET).

He said the agency’s officials made the offer after they personally conducted a survey and ocular inspection of potential routes in the city three weeks ago.

They specifically found the area from Barangays Tingacan to Lagao here as ideal site for the HET, he said.

The proposed site, which also covers portions of Barangay Katangawan, is traversed by the General Santos-Davao highway.

“The area extends like a straight line and they found it perfect for the construction of a railroad for the electric train,” Lagare said.

He said the preparatory works for the project could start as early as January next year based on their initial discussions with DOST officials.

The DOST introduced and initially tested last year the five-car HET, which runs from 60 to 80 kilometers per hour,  on a stretch of tracks of the Philippine National Railways in Manila and Laguna.

Developed by the DOST’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center, the HET was among the research and development projects pursued by the agency to address traffic congestion in urban areas.

The agency acquired the bogie for the train from Korean company Sung Shin Rolling Stock Technology Co., Ltd., but the train’s body, parts, accessories and equipment were fabricated and built by local companies.

Meantime, Lagare said the DOST has started the process for the transport of the HERT from Cebu to this city.

“The bidding is currently ongoing for the transport of the road train that would cost P1.6 million,” he said.

The HERT has just completed its six-month test-run in Cebu City and will undergo another trial run for five to six months here starting October.

The road train, which was launched by DOST in 2015, was designed by Filipino engineers and made with locally available parts, an agency briefer said.

It can run at a maximum speed of 50 kilometers per hour and is mainly powered by hybrid diesel fuel and electric-powered battery. It was designed as energy-efficient vehicle and does not need electricity and suspended cables to operate.

Lagare said the HERT’s route will cover portions of the national highway from Barangay Tinagacan to the city fishport complex in Barangay Tambler.

He said it could eventually cover other routes within the city’s downtown area and other barangays.

“We will be the first to deploy the road train commercially so the DOST is making the city as showcase area for this technology,” he added. AVE/PNA