THE PHILIPPINES government announced on July 26 that it had approved a P7·6bn expansion package for Manila’s light rail Line 1. The target is to boost capacity from 27000 to 40000 passengers/h in each direction. This will involve improvements to the signalling and power supplies plus the purchase of 12 additional four-car trainsets. The upgrading is to be funded by a loan from Japan’s Obuchi Fund intended to alleviate the Asian economic downturn.

The 15 km Line 1 from Baclaran to Monumento is currently being equipped with automatic fare collection equipment, which is due to go live on December 15. The present P10 flat fare using tokens will be replaced by a graduated fare structure using stored-value magnetic stripe cards. This will allow the Light Rail Transit Authority to distinguish between short and long distance riders, and is expected to increase revenue by around 25%.

December will also see the opening of the first section of Manila’s privately-promoted EDSA light rail Line 3. Services will initially operate only on the northeastern section between Buendia and North Avenue depot. Metro Rail Transit Corp Senior Vice-President Paul Daza confirmed on August 8 that construction problems on the southern end of the line between Buendia and Taft Avenue would delay the opening of the rest of the 16·8 km route until June 2000 at the earliest. When complete, Line 3 is expected to handle between 600000 and 1 million passengers a day using a fleet of 70 Czech-built LRVs (Metro Report 1998 p49).