ON DECEMBER 10 Philippines President Gloria Arroyo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe formally inaugurated the first of 12 new four-car trains being supplied as part of a 8?9bn pesos upgrade of Manila light rail Line 1.After cutting a ribbon at Pasay depot, the VIPs took a ride in one of the so-called 3-G third generation sets, which will join 63 cars supplied by BN dating from the early 1980s and 24 Korean-built vehicles. With 40 of the 48 new cars delivered, the 3-G sets were expected to enter revenue service from December 11.Funded by a ?26bn soft loan from JBIC’s Obuchi Fund, the capacity expansion project includes remodelling of key stations including the Line 2 interchange at Doroteo Jose/Recto, the construction of a new operations control centre and upgrading of the older trains with air-conditioning. LRTA Administrator Melquiades Robles expects the work to boost capacity from 27 000 to 40 000 passengers/h in each direction.Work on the US$120m northern extension from Monumento to North Avenue is due to start in January for completion by May 2010, having been transferred from Line 3 to Line 1. LRTA is hoping to obtain government approval shortly for the the South Extension from Baclaran to Cavite, which is priced at US$685m 15 companies have already submitted proposals for this project, which will be funded through a 40-year PPP concession. Meanwhile, Line 3 operator Metro Rail Transit Authority hopes to acquire extra cars to relieve its Metrostar fleet, which is carrying 450 000 passengers/day against a design capacity of 350 000. MRT General Manager Roberto Lastimoso said the company was in discussion with German and Austrian operators for the purchase of 48 second-hand LRVs at US$1m each, which could be reformed into 12 four-car trains and put into service by April or May.