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SMC trains engineers for MRT

Aug 31, 2023

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said on Monday it is training 115 “promising engineering graduates” to prepare them for the commercial operations of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 7 in 2025.

Ramon S. Ang, the company’s president and CEO, said the company has “selected” graduates from “various universities” but most came from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’s (PUP) Railway Engineering Program.

Some of them have started training in the Philippines, while the top 40 cadets were sent to South Korea to train under its national railway operator, Korail, also SMC’s partner in the MRT-7.

“Investing in the growth, development and well-being of young local talents is part of our commitment to nation-building and ensuring our country’s long-term success and prosperity,” Ang said.

“We want to be able to provide them with the tools they need to enhance their competencies, prepare them for when the MRT-7 starts operating and eventually make meaningful contributions to the wider community. I am confident they will not only shine but also redefine standards.”

Over 500 applicants initially underwent panel interviews and screening for the program. This included an aptitude test for train operators and traffic controllers. The 115 candidates who were cleared began training last March.

SMC tapped South Korea’s Korail and the government-run Philippine Railway Institute (PRI) to provide industry-level insights and understanding in train operations and maintenance for its railway cadets, who will become skilled train operators and traffic controllers.

Korail’s corps of railway professors began classroom lectures in Manila in May, with the entire batch of cadets in attendance. After further performance evaluations, the top 40 cadets were sent to Seoul to continue their training at the Korail facility.

This includes hands-on training using a driving simulator, exposure to core technology for driving and operations, railway control systems, first aid and emergency, and familiarization with the railway depot.

Meanwhile, 75 other cadets are undergoing the mandatory Fundamental Training (FT) course of the PRI, the rail transportation research and training center attached to the Department of Transportation.

The FT course provides an industry-level appreciation of railway operations and maintenance and seeks to provide aspiring railway professionals “the opportunity to learn technical skills and fundamental processes, with multiple paths to specialization and advancement within the railway sector.”

Cadets who graduate from the course become certified railway professionals such as train operators, traffic controllers, and maintenance personnel.

Once completed, the MRT-7 will have 14 stations, namely: Quezon North Avenue Joint Station; Quezon Memorial Circle; University Avenue; Tandang Sora; Don Antonio; Batasan; Manggahan; Dona Carmen; Regalado; Mindanao Avenue; Quirino; Sacred Heart; Tala; and San Jose del Monte. It can accommodate 300,000 passengers in its first year of operations, and up to 850,000 passengers daily in its 12th year.

The project will also feature an intermodal transportation hub catering to other types of public transportation, as well as a 19-km highway from San Jose del Monte to Bocaue, Bulacan.

As of mid-June, MRT 7 is at 61.92 percent completion.