Monday, December 17, 2012

DOST chief, UP president test run the first Filipino-developed train


FIRST they laid the track. Now they ride the coach. In the maiden test run last Friday of the country’s first ever train developed by local experts, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario G. Montejo and University of the Philippines (UP) President Alfredo Pascual personally board the train to see how the ride goes. 
Joyride. Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Automated Guideway Transit successfully fulfilled its maiden test run recently. The AGT, a joint project of DOST and UP Diliman, aims to reduce traffic and air pollution in Metro Manila. Photo shows DOST Secretary Mario Montejo (left), UP President Alfredo Pascual (2nd from left), DOST Assistant Secretary for Strategic Plans and Programs Robert Dizon (center behind Pres. Pascual), along with other UP officials, during the AGT maiden test run. (Photo and text by Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service, STII)
The train, also called the Automated Guideway Transit or simply AGT, is designed by DOST engineers in consultation with UP experts. The AGT’s test run, when completed, would establish the train’s speed and capacity; polish its mechanisms, controls, power, and stress systems; and fine-tune its troubleshooting procedures. The goal is a fully-automated and emission-free transportation capable of carrying up to 60 passengers per trip. 

The AGT is one of DOST’s solutions to the worsening vehicular traffic in Metro Manila and in other metropolitan areas in the country. 
First Filipino-developed train. The Automated Guideway Transit System or AGT is an elevated transportation developed by engineers of the Department of Science and Technology to address the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila. The 465-meter concrete guideway built inside the UP Diliman Campus serves as a test site to fine-tune the train’s speed, power, controls and stress systems. The testing phase will finish by June 2013 and any result will be used to construct a higher-capacity elevated carrier. (Photo by DOST-MIRDC)
More than creating a Filipino train version, according to Secretary Montejo, part of the goal is to “train local engineers to operate their own designed transport system and enhance their competency in the area of transportation technology.” 

Plus, developing the train costs just about one fifth of the cost of acquiring a similar foreign train. “We want to locally fabricate the components to make the vehicle cost-effective and sustainable,” Secretary Montejo said. 

Meanwhile UP President Alfredo Pascual, when asked about the economic benefits of the AGT said, “One practically stimulates the economy by reducing costs, speeding up the movement of people, or developing an industry.” 

He also said that the AGT can help reduce pollution inside the campus. Moreover, the AGT being an electric-ran transport system, helps mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Meanwhile, UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma said that the AGT test site also serves as a good laboratory site for the university’s engineering students. 

Like the Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in EDSA, the DOST-UP AGT is fully-air-conditioned, spacious, and has a fine industrial design. One difference of the AGT over the former, on the other hand, is the lack of cables suspended above and along the track as its DC-electrical system is built along the guideway itself. This gives it a “cleaner look” according to its designers. 
Certainly no monorail. The DOST automated guideway transit runs on two parallel bars instead of one and thus cannot be included in the monorail category. Like the EDSA MRT, the train is fully-air-conditioned inside and can travel to and fro on a single guideway. (Photo by Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service, STII)

The train’s 465-meter guideway or test track stretches from the College of Fine Arts to CP Garcia Avenue, where it makes a 25-meter radius curve to the direction of the University Avenue where the tracks stop. The guideway is made of high-quality concrete and stands at an average height of 6.1 meters. 

The testing stage is scheduled to finish by June next year, while results and recommendations that will come out from the test will become bases for designing a regular-sized version of the train. The next AGT would accommodate up to 120 passengers, twice the UP Diliman version’s current capacity. 

Meanwhile, designers of the AGT also clarify that the train is “not monorail.” 

“The AGT was initially designed as a monorail but subsequent modifications from last year’s prototype no longer fits the AGT into that category,” explained Engr. Elljay P. Mutuc, one of the train’s designers. 

He said that what differentiates the AGT from a monorail system is that it rolls on two rails instead of one. Moreover, the monorail has narrower guideways with respect to the coaches’ widths, but the AGT moves along two parallel bars whose distance across almost equals that of the coaches, he said. 

One of DOST’s High-Impact Technology Solutions or HITS, the AGT is being developed through DOST’s consultations with the UP National Center for Transportation Studies, College of Engineering, and the National Institute of Geological Sciences. 

The project’s lead implementing agency in DOST— the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC)—constructed the train’s main mechanical frameworks or “rolling stocks”, and subcontracted local companies Miescor Builders and Fil-Asia Automotive to construct the guideway and the coaches, respectively, based on the design team’s specifications.

The Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) funded the project under the MakiBayan Program, short for “Makina at Teknolohiya para sa Bayan”, of MIRDC. 

Meanwhile, UP has expressed plans to conduct a study on the marketability of the AGT, and pledged full commitment to provide the test site its needed security. (Contributed by George Robert Valencia III, S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)

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Photos courtesy of:  Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service, STII &DOST-MIRDC

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