APRIL 5 saw the start of public service on Manila Light Rail Transit Authority Line 2, the city’s third rapid transit line. Philippine President Gloria Arroyo inaugurated the service and joined the first passengers on the initial 4·3 km section linking Santolan and Cubao. Dubbed Megatren on account of its higher capacity, Line 2 is more characteristically heavy metro than LRT Line 1.

The Japanese-built EMUs are fitted for automatic train operation, but carry on-board ’supervisors’ to monitor door-opening and station departures. The remainder of the line, covering 9·5 km and six stations, is expected to open in late 2004.

Construction could start next year on two further routes in Manila, Lines 4 and 7. This follows submission to the Department of Transport & Communications in March of technical reports on a conflict between the two proposals over an 8 km section in Quezon City. These projects are unsolicited bids for Build-Operate-Transfer schemes.